Earlier this month, the Russian President Putin gave his annual speech to the Federation. A number of subjects were reviewed and thus a fairly complete overview was given of the state of affairs in Russia and where the current government wants to go in the future.
The elections in Russia will take place on March 18th and Putin is expected to win these elections. This means that in all likelihood the current political line will be continued in all areas, including in the field of foreign policy. And this is characterized by the strongly deteriorated relations with the US and therefore with the entire West, which, together with the economic sanctions against Russia, will remain an important theme.
New long-range missiles
In the field of Russian geostrategic and national security interests, Putin has spoken in clear and unmistakable language. He presented on the basis of video images two new Russian missiles, Kinzjal and Avanguard, which can not be intercepted by the current American missile shield. Kinzjal is already being delivered to the army at the moment, while the Avanguard will soon be mass produced. These weapons serve as an answer to the American missile shield that has been seen by Russia as a threat to national security since at least 2011.
The US claims that the missile shield in Eastern Europe is a response to possible rocket launches from, for example, Iran, while missile systems in the Far East are a response to the launch of missiles from North Korea. Russia however believes that the shield already under construction threatens its national security both in Europe and in the Far East.
Putin’s words must be valued against this background. The Russian president made clear that his country will only use nuclear weapons if it is attacked with such weapons, but that this will also be the response when there is a conventional attack that endangers the national security of Russia.
Putin further said that an attack with weapons of mass destruction on Russian allies would be considered an attack on Russia and that a direct response would follow. These are unmistakable words that make clear how the relations between NATO and Russia are at this moment: Very bad and very tense. It also indicates that Russia takes into account such attacks.
Troops building up along the border
Putin’s words get an extra dimension through the statement of the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Fomin, for the TV station Rossija 24. He brought up the American missile shield. According to him, a ring of 400 rockets belonging to the missile shield around Russia is being built. The construction would take place in Poland, Romania, the Baltic states and in Korea and Japan in the Far East.
He also stated that the US is preparing for the deployment of 300,000 soldiers along the western border of Russia. Eight command centers have been set up for the supply of these troops to Eastern Europe. Logistic preparations for the supply of military equipment, ammunition and fuel have been completed, Fomin said.
The buildup of troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe has now assumed the dimension of a Cold War. This has already been going on for about two years, but now it has become really obvious.