Russian Military Warns: ‘Tactical’ Nuclear War, Prompt Global Strike Won't Work
Gen.-Maj. Andrei Burbin, chief of the Central Command Post of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) gave an unusual on-air briefing Sunday on Russia's readiness to use its strategic nuclear weapons under conditions of attack on the country, including the much-ballyhooed U.S. Prompt Global Strike scheme for a non-nuclear attempt to destroy the Russian retaliatory capability. The message from this Russian officer is that "utopian" military schemes for "limited nuclear war" or a "counterforce" destruction of Russia's nuclear weapons are illusory: They will fail, and the result will be retaliation against the United States using the intercontinental ballistic missiles of Russia's SMF. Burbin's interview by military analyst Igor Korotchenko, editor of the journal Natsionalnaya oborona (National Defense), was cited by major Russian wire services and newspapers, including the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Highlights were showcased in English by Sputnik News, RT, and other outlets, indicating a high-level decision to get out this statement of Russia's military posture worldwide.
The first half of the interview concerned the scientific and psychological training of SMF officers, who man the "most combat-ready and capable component of the strategic nuclear triad," namely land-based ICBMs. These forces "are capable of performing their mission within minutes." Also explored was the command-and-control function, including multi-channel communications between President Putin as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and the SMF.
Korotchenko then asked about the just-ended, month-long SMF training cycle. Gen. Burbin said that their main practice mission had been "to move our mobile missile units away from an attack," so that the ability to launch a retaliatory strike would be preserved:
"We worked on changing and extending the positioning areas, maneuvering the units, and thus increasing the survivability of these units and making the task of our probable adversary more difficult."
"So, the retaliatory strike potential will be ensured under all circumstances? It is no secret that the Prompt Global Strike concept now exists, meaning large-scale use of high-precision non-nuclear weapons, in order to make a disarming first strike in a critical situation, and thus knock out capabilities such as our strategic nuclear forces."
"This issue has been addressed. Within the developing or changing situation, we have already worked through this challenge and can meet it. The point is that, under any circumstances, the SMF can carry out their mission. And if it is necessary to perform the mission of launching a nuclear missile strike, this will be done in the prescribed time frame, with absolute certainty. Our units are geographically deployed in such a way, that no global strike is capable of disabling the entire SMF."
To a follow-up question, Burbin replied that this "absolutely" applies to a nuclear attack on Russia, as well. The discussion also touched on the ability of the SMF to function "under real war conditions, with attempted interference and the deployment of sabotage teams." The SMF officer said that this also involved countering new technologies, an allusion to stepped-up electronic or cyber warfare. Reviewing the Topol-M and Yars missile-building programs, Burbin noted that by 2020, 98% of the SMF will consist of new missiles.
Summing up, Burbin said:
"The missile forces, which are in permanent combat-readiness, perform the task of strategic deterrence in peacetime. Thanks to the SMF, we are living without war today."
"The conclusion for all of us, for our country and for the world, is that Russia's nuclear shield is reliable, and that military orders will be carried out in any situation that develops."
In the call-in portion of the program, after the general had left the studio, Korotchenko continued this discussion with listeners, noting the turnaround of the Russian military during the past two years since Gen. Sergei Shoygu became minister of defense, and the emergence of a new, highly competent generation of Russian officers. He commented,
"This is very important, when Obama is threatening us with sanctions and divine retribution, and hands are itching to press the button. So the Americans know that if you press, then the button will be pressed in response. And this makes for strategic equilibrium, and puts us on an equal footing with the Americans. Maybe we're weak in some areas, or the liberals say things are bad here, and that sanctions will suffocate us, but a great country that has a nuclear shield cannot be suffocated by any sanctions."