МОСКВА, 26 ноября 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.
Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 18, 2021. It is necessary to pay attention to several quotes from his speech describing the military-political situation around our country. The most acute and sensitive situation for Russia was called the internal Ukrainian crisis, which, unfortunately, «is still far from being resolved”.
Vladimir Putin noted: «At the same time, it should be borne in mind that Western partners are aggravating the situation by supplying Kiev with lethal modern weapons, conducting provocative military manoeuvres in the Black Sea, and not only in the Black Sea – in other regions close to our borders too.
As for the Black Sea, this generally goes beyond certain limits: strategic bombers fly at a distance of 20 kilometres from our state border, and they, as is known, carry very serious weapons”.
The Russian President recalled several waves of NATO expansion to the east: «And now let’s see where the military infrastructure of the NATO bloc is located — right near our borders, and missile defence systems have already been deployed in Romania and Poland, which can easily be used as a result of the fact that Mk-41 launchers and strike complexes are there. It’s only a matter of a few minutes to change the software”.
Let’s make a small clarification: we are talking about Tomahawk cruise missiles, which, like SM-3 anti-missiles, can be launched from Mk-41 launchers, and their flight range with this launch option is estimated at 2500 km.
In his speech at the board of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Vladimir Putin also assessed the adequacy and ability to listen to the voice of reason of our so-called partners, likely opponents, speaking in military terms:
«Our partners are very peculiar and so – how to put it mildly — very superficially treat all our warnings and talk about ‘red lines’… But nevertheless our warnings of recent times still make themselves felt and produce a certain effect: a certain tension has arisen there after all.»
Based on the assessment of the current military-political situation around Russia, the head of our state formulated two main tasks. The first of them concerns strategic deterrence: «It is necessary that this state [of tension] with them [our partners] be maintained as long as possible, so that it does not occur to them to organise some conflict on our western borders that we do not need, and we do not need conflicts.»
The second task was formulated personally to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov: «It is necessary to raise the question, Sergey Viktorovich, it is necessary to raise the question of seeking to provide Russia with serious long-term guarantees to ensure our security in this area, because Russia cannot exist and constantly think about what might happen there tomorrow.»
It is obvious that the fulfilment of the first task is a condition for the fulfilment of the second, because the United States, as the leader of the collective West, will never sit down at the negotiating table and will not accept Russia’s «red lines» if they do not feel an acute threat to their national security, if they are not in a state of tension.
In addition, it is the real alignment of forces that ensures the implementation of the agreements concluded. A striking recent example concerns the NATO-Russia Founding Act (the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation) of May 27, 1997.
The fourth section of this document states: «NATO member states confirm that they have no intentions, plans or reasons for deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of new members and have no need to change any aspect of the construction of NATO nuclear forces or NATO nuclear policy, nor do they foresee the need to do so in the future.
This includes the fact that NATO has decided that it has no intentions, plans or reasons to create nuclear weapons storage sites on the territories of these countries either by building new nuclear weapons storage facilities or by adapting old nuclear weapons storage facilities. Nuclear weapons storage sites are understood to be facilities specially designed for the placement of nuclear weapons, including all types of protected ground and underground structures (storage facilities and devices) intended for the storage of nuclear weapons.»
However, the existence of this written agreement did not prevent NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg from declaring on November 19, 2021, that if Germany refused to keep American nuclear weapons on its territory, they could be deployed east of Germany. It can be assumed that we are talking primarily about Poland, the Baltic states and Romania.
It seems that patrolling on November 10 by a pair of long-range Tu-22M3 missile bombers and on November 11, 2021 by a pair of supersonic Tu-160 strategic missile bombers of the airspace near the borders of Belarus, judging by Angela Merkel’s call to Vladimir Putin, somewhat strained the Europeans, but not enough to draw the right conclusions.
There is a strong opinion in Russian expert circles that exclusively symmetrical measures, i.e. measures on the European continent, even the deployment of Russian Iskander tactical missile systems on the territory of Belarus in threatened periods, whose missiles are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a capacity of up to 50 kilotons, cannot solve the first task formulated by the President of Russia.
It is the Americans who should feel the threat, and it should concern the continental part of the United States of America. If we recall the agreements between the United States and the USSR on the resolution of the 1962 Caribbean crisis, they concerned the refusal of mutual deployment of only ground-based nuclear missiles at the territory of a potential enemy. However, Russia has both air and sea carriers of such weapons.
As for the air component of Russia’s nuclear triad, there are 4-5 airfields in Cuba with a runway length of 4,000 meters. Accordingly, they are capable of receiving Russian strategic supersonic Tu-160 missile carrier bombers and Tu-95MS missile carriers.
Although, perhaps, it would be optimal for Cuba to deploy long-range missile-carrying Tu-22M3 bombers, not related to strategic aviation, but capable of carrying nuclear weapons. This combat vehicle can make a long flight at a speed of Mach 1.88, while the newest American F-35 fighter has a maximum flight speed of Mach 1.6.
The combat range of the long-range supersonic missile carrier-bomber Tu-22M3, depending on the flight mode with a payload of 12 tons, is within 1500-2410 km. The aerial refuelling rod will make the combat range of the aircraft even longer.
This bomber can carry free-fall nuclear bombs, as well as up to three Kh-32 cruise missiles, including in the nuclear version of the equipment. The range of the Kh-32 rocket is up to 1000km, and the maximum flight speed is about 1.5 km/s (Mach 4.4), i.e. close to hypersonic speed, which starts at Mach 5.
The distance from the coast of Cuba to the coast of the United States at the narrowest point of the Florida Strait is 180km. The distance from Havana to Washington is 1827km.
All these calculations are, of course, approximate. It is obvious that the Russian General Staff has its own calculation of forces and means for the Cuban option of deploying both air and sea carriers of nuclear weapons, because the history of the issue has been going on since 1962.
There is an option with Venezuela. Back in 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proposed to lease La Orchila island for the organisation of a Russian strategic aviation base on it. This island is located in the Caribbean Sea. There is a naval base of the Venezuelan Navy and an airfield with a runway length of 3200 meters.
Thus, plans to deploy Russia’s nuclear weapons near the continental United States may be a response to similar actions carried out by Washington near our borders. Russian air and sea patrols of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean may become a harsh reality for the American establishment.
Potentially, this step will ensure a productive negotiation process and will make it possible to achieve «the provision of serious long-term guarantees to Russia to ensure our security» from the United States and NATO.