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The clash between the United States and the Russian Federation on strategic nuclear weapons

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On October 20 last the US President, Donald J. Trump, stated that North America would withdraw from the INF Treaty on nuclear missile weapons, which means that Europe will be again the main base for the new intermediate and long-range weapon systems.

Obviously the European ruling class, both at national and EU levels, has not yet said a single word about this new configuration of the threats and defences on our territory.

President Trump referred specifically to the 1987 INF Treaty or, more precisely, to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 – a treaty that, in particular, banned the ground-launched nuclear missiles having a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

The INF Treaty led to the complete elimination of almost 2,700 medium and short-range missiles, including 850 US ones and over 1,800 Soviet ones. As many may recall, it put an end to the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union just at the time when the latter deployed the new SS-20 missiles in Eastern Europe and, as a response, the former deployed its Cruise and Pershing missiles in the European NATO, in a phase characterized by a whirlwind of “pacifist” demonstrations.

The “Euromissile battle”, as it was defined in the extraordinary book La Bataille des Euromissiles by Michel Tatu, was the real beginning of the end of Cold War.

Nevertheless, it was a leader of the Milanese Communist Party, who was like one of the family in the Soviet Union, who personally informed the German Social Democrat Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, that the Soviet SS-20 missiles had an eminently offensive function.

If there had been only the Soviet SS-20 missiles aimed at European targets, not necessarily only military ones, the remote conditioning of our defence and economic policy would have been almost complete.

Hence the “Euromissile battle” was the real and last battle for the freedom of Europe which, before the Soviet missiles, had undergone almost twenty years of ideological conditioning, which had begun in 1968 and had been turned into a real low-intensity civil war, in Italy in particular.

In that case the pro-Soviet propaganda or, in principle, the “pacifist” propaganda had the last glimpse of life and, above all, huge support by Soviet Union and its various parallel propaganda organizations.

Those were the last days in which the old techniques of political propaganda still operated – between “the partisans of peace” and the Catholics of “dissent” – invented by the German Communist, Willi Muenzenberg, the “Stalin’s propaganda agent” and the organizer of many Communist communication battles.

However, let us revert to President Trump and the INF Treaty.

In fact, the US President states that Russia has actually infringed the INF Treaty rules, as it has developed a new type of medium-range missile.

However, as we will see at a later stage, faults are equally divided between the two contenders.

He refers to the 9M729 missile, in particular, also known asSSC-X-8.

It is a missile having a medium-long range – 3,000 nautical miles –  which is supposed to be the land version of the SS-N-30 missile.

The missile is equipped with a starting solid propellant, which fires after the launch. The control system and guidance of the cruise missile is inertial control system (autopilot) with Doppler sensors drift angle correction according to the Russian GLONASS and Western GPS satellite navigation systems.

If launched from the Siberian coast, this Russian missile could easily reach the Californian coast up to Los Angeles.

If launched from Moscow, however, it could cover the whole Western European area.

It is likely, however, that in a new treaty Russia wants to negotiate the elimination of the NATO ground-launched missiles in exchange for the abolition of its ones, thus excluding – from the negotiations for the reduction of strategic weapons – the newly developed long-range missiles and the hypersonic ones, of which we will speak later on.

The next race for new weapons will be focused there.

Over the last few days, however, both Trump and Putin have declared to be ready for dialogue, also with a future  informal meeting in Paris, as had been recently decided during the visit paid by President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, to Moscow where he met President Putin.

On March 1, 2018, however, President Putin had stated Russia had already developed and making operational a new complete line of medium-long range strategic missiles, capable – above all – of quickly getting the North American and NATO missile defences out of play.

Putin mainly made reference to missiles, but also to underwater drones and other types of advanced weapons, all arms systems that the Russian Federation has developed since the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM)) signed with the USSR in 1972.

The American withdrawal, however, dates back to December 2001.

In his demonstration, Vladimir Putin showed two new weapon systems, the RS-28 Sarmat (NATO reporting code:  SS-X-30 Satan 2), which has an average range of 11,000 kilometres, and another innovative missile about which we will talk later on.

It should be recalled that the Satan 2 missile was designed in response to the deployment of the US GMD anti-ballistic missile systems and the subsequent launch of the US Defence program called Prompt Global Strike in 2009.

At least for the time being, the GMD is deployed in military bases in the States of Alaska and California and comprises 44 kinetic interceptors(40 in Alaska and 4 on the Western coast in the Los Angeles area) for intercepting incoming warheads in space, during the midcourse phase of ballistic trajectory flight. It spans 15 time zones with sensors on land, at sea and in orbit.

The GMD positions are supposed to reach 100 by the end of 2020.

The concept of US missile defence, however, is based on the maximum possible redundancy of signals and counteractions, at different altitudes, so as to permit a significant response, even after a severe nuclear missile attack.

The second strike is the basic concept of every ABM defence, both in the USA and in the rest of the world.

The radars for the interceptor networks are mainly located in Pearl Harbor, in relation to the inevitable routes of the Chinese ICBMs, but with the radars for early signaling also deployed in Alaska, Great Britain, Greenland, Qatar, Japan and Taiwan – while the data collected by both fixed networks and aircraft is processed in the Schriever airbase located in El Paso County, Colorado.

It should be noted that the current US system is mainly designed to counter missile attacks by States such as North Korea and Iran, while it is not specifically calibrated to respond to “well-established” strategic forces, such as Russia or China.

In fact, there is no missile shield capable of successfully countering a stratified threat that is put in place by a real nuclear State.

Incidentally, the yearly cost of the Missile Defense Agency for 2018 amounts to 7.9 billion dollars.

Conversely the Prompt Global Strike program is a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour since the President’s order or since the detection of the threat. It is expected to become operational this year.

It has been calculated that this project can make the United States spare at least 30% of its nuclear weapons.

An additional implementation of the strategic redundancy criterion.

Russia, however, responded to this US project with one of the missiles mentioned by Vladimir Putin together with the Satan-2 missile, namely the S-500 Prometey, also known as the 55R6M Triumfator M.

The S-500 is designed to destroy both new generation long-range missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles and has a minimum range of 600 kilometres up to 3,500.

Hence it falls within the scope of the old INF Treaty.

It has a speed of 5 kilometres per second and it is supposed to be operational by the end of 2020.

It is by no mere coincidence that Putin delivered his speech shortly after the release of the Pentagon’s New Missile Doctrine, namely the Nuclear Posture Review, in which an attempt is made to make the new generation anti-missile defence policy line more comprehensive and up-to-date vis-à-vis Russia, China and, as usual, North Korea and Iran.

The logic underlying this Pentagon’s official document is simple: if the USA increases its nuclear war potential, the Russian Federation will automatically be deterred from planning a missile attack against the US territory.

Moreover, Putin also stated that new laser weapons are under construction and that a new hypersonic missile is also ready, namely the Kh-47M2 Khinzal (“Dagger”), an air-launched ballistic missile specific for the MiG31BM interceptors.

Russia has also the brand new RS-26 Avangard, a hypersonic missile equipped with Multiple Independent Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs).

In short, the two countries that signed the IFN Treaty have resumed the nuclear and ABM arms race.

It was a bad surprise for the United States to discover a technologically advanced and a doctrinally evolved Russia both in the Crimea operation and, particularly, in the actions to support Bashar al-Assad’ Syrian Arab Army.

Hence the periphery is hit with remote control weapons to signal to the centre – be it Russia or the USA – the need to quickly give up that area, that technology, that specific economic, energy and technological presence.

This is the deep logic underlying conventional or nuclear missile systems.

Obviously this applies to both Russia and North America.

Furthermore, considering the Russian technological evolution, the USA plans to resume the arms race not only to weaken the growing Russian economy, but also to combine China’s and Russia’s ICBM threat with the other asymmetric and unpredictable missile threats of Iran and North Korea.

This means that the United States still wants the complete regionalization of the Russian Federation and its encirclement between the NATO-led Eastern Europe and the US-led Central Asia, to control both China’s and Russia’s borders.

The fewer conventional forces are, the greater the remote threats of advanced weapon systems must be – and this is also a common logic for both major players.

Sealing China into its own borders, which have always been insecure, means permanently stopping the Belt and Road Initiative and halting its economic, technological and financial development.

Hence nuclear missiles are the ideal power multiplier for a global attack and defence strategy.

What about China? What policy line does it have for its nuclear ABMs? Meanwhile, China always publicly reaffirms its three classic principles: no first use of the nuclear weapon; no use of the nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear country; maintenance of an arsenal only capable of minimum deterrence, just to ensure the possibility of a second effective nuclear response to an attack.

At statistical level, China is currently supposed to have approximately 280 nuclear warheads, to be used on 120-130 ground-launched ballistic missiles – 48 to be used on ships or submarines and the rest with air carriers.

Nevertheless, once again in response to the ABM and nuclear missile evolution of the United States in recent years, China has added many multiple warheads to its intercontinental ballistic missiles, especially the ground-based ones.

In this case, the “MIRVization” – i.e. the allocation of multiple weapons for each carrier – would also imply a new ability to penetrate the US missile lines, not only for defence purposes.

However, to what extent are missile defences really effective and to what extent is a conventional or nuclear ballistic attack system precise?

With specific reference to the United States, about half of the 18 tests carried out so far for intercepting an enemy missile have failed.

On the best possible assumption, the operational interception made by the ABM systems works only in 50% of cases.

The aforementioned GMD, which already costs 40 billion US dollars, has not yet been tested in sufficiently realistic conditions.

For example, if we consider an attack with five missiles and four interceptors for each target, considering that each interceptor works exactly in 50% of cases, the probability that a missile penetrates the defence network is 28%. Too much.

Every nuclear or conventional attack is such as to make the attacker win.

However, what would happen if there were – as it might be very likely – a concerted attack by various different missile systems, each with a different system of targets and defensive covers?

Hence the danger of a saturation of the US defence systems is extremely high.

They would be grappling with different types of attack, different technologies and different logics for selecting targets.

Every enemy’s successful nuclear attack can be the one determining the final victory. With this particular strategy, the attacker has almost always the victory in his bag.

However, reverting to the end of the INF Treaty, now decided by the United States, it should be noted that, according to the US State Department, as early as 2014 Russia has repeatedly infringed the Treaty.

In December 2017, the US intelligence services identified the Russian short-range 9M729 missile which, however, precisely follows the INF rules.

Nevertheless, the Unites States maintains it violates the Treaty anyway.

It is the United States, however, that has clearly infringed the INF Treaty with its Mark 41 Vertical Launch System and with the manufacturing of drones which are, in effect, cruise missiles in disguise.

Moreover, in recent years China, in particular, has developed many new-design missiles that operate precisely within the range explicitly prohibited by the INF Treaty, namely between 500 and 5,000 kilometres.

It should be recalled that China has never signed the INF Treaty.

Although being often urged to join the INF Treaty, China has always refused to sign it.

Hence, while Russia is modernizing its conventional and nuclear missiles, this implies a clear doctrinal, strategic and technological cooperation with China.

However, if there were a simultaneous attack from China and the Russian Federation, it would be unlikely that the North American ABM networks could protect the whole US territory.

Not to mention Europe, which currently deals only with currencies, without having clear in mind – even in this case -what the real issue at stake is.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Defense

India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture

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In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Defense

Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS

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Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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