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Thread: Putin's "Invincible" Weapons

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Putin's "Invincible" Weapons

    From hypersonic nuclear powered scramjet cruise missiles with unlimited range, a underwater submarine drone, underwater ICBM, and even truck-mounted mobile laser missile defense systems, Putin put on the show yesterday in a speech to the Russian parliament.

    Among the new weapons systems:

    • RS-28 Sarmat ICBM NATO designation Satan 2 - claimed to be able to evade US missile defenses by going over the South Pole - was in development from 2009 and is claimed to be operational.
    • Avangard (Vanguard) hypersonic vehicle. Nuclear powered scramjet cruise missile with "unlimited range", similar concept to the US Project Pluto , which presumably can be carried on the Sarmat in addition to conventional MIRVs. Described by Putin as "a low-flying, low-visibility cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead and possessing a practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path and the capability to impregnate practically all interception lines is invulnerable to all existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons."
    • "an underwater drone is capable of operating at "very extreme depths covering intercontinental distances"

    This is a propaganda-themed video, but it was the best one that I could find that had videos everything in his speech (except maybe the mobile truck-mounted laser missile defense systems):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRB4EhKxoXg

    And then there was this. MIRVs targeting Florida:

    https://i.imgur.com/p8XhGmC.jpg

    The part of his speech concerning these new weapons systems:

    Last edited by Ironduke; 02 Mar 18, at 09:34.

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    I heard it best on Twitter...

    Russia is Peru with nukes.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I heard it best on Twitter...

    Russia is Peru with nukes.
    Helmlut Schmidt got it right in the 80s - 'Upper Volta with Missiles'. Of course, Russia was better run & more powerful then, so the more modern take is 'Nigeria with snow'. Personally I'm more of a 'Bangladesh with nukes' guy, though Bangladesh does have a higher life expectancy (no foolin').


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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    It's tempting to dismiss Russia as "Upper Volta with Missiles", "Nigeria with snow", or "Peru with nukes". Sure, Russia has half the population of the United States with an economy the size of Australia. These weapon systems, whether they're real, fantasy, or somewhere in-between, should be the least of concerns. You can spend billions or trillions on nuclear measures and counter-measures and the end result of a nuclear war is still going to be the same.

    The reality is, Russia's been punching far above their weight for some time now. They've been confounding our several of our foreign policy objectives on a number of fronts (and we've also had success in confounding them, the permanent alienation of Ukraine to Russia being one of them, akin to chopping off their left arm). They're an energy superpower and have repeatedly demonstrated both willingness and capability in using energy to attain their foreign policy objectives, and to limit reactions to their aggressive acts. An attitude of "Upper Volta with missiles" doesn't do us any service.

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    I think a key question is: what happens as the economic situation in Russia continues to get worse?

    If you are Putin, and you're faced with a shrinking economy, how do you monetize your investments in the military industrial complex? How do you keep things going? Where is the next play?

    Remember that this is a guy with no morals and no conscience, a high functioning primary psychopath. If I were him, if be looking for a project to obtain some economic advantage.

    E Europe is tapped out. The cost benefit of a further Ukrainian adventure or a foray into the Baltic doesn't make sense.

    Middle East was shaping up to be a great play until the American shale revolution. Even if, say Iran was able to shutting Persian Golf shipping, the resulting price spikes would be countered by US production.

    NK is a bridge to no where though useful for trolling the Americans.

    Could Kazakhstan be the next play? Perhaps Putin could try muscling in on the largess of belt and road.
    Last edited by citanon; 03 Mar 18, at 04:03.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    I think the notion that things have "continued to get worse" is mistaken. They've already passed through the worst of it. The ruble bottomed out in 2016 and has since increased by 70% in value. A 3.7% economic drop in 2015 stabilized to about 0% in 2016, with 2017 seeing 1.5% growth.

    How do you monetize the investments in the military industrial complex? There's already an answer to that: go to war in Syria and demonstrate them. Putin himself said two days ago, "The world knows the names of all our major weapons after operations in Syria."

    Whatever other purposes Russia's intervention in Syria serves, it's also served as a venue for which to demonstrate his weapons systems to future customers. It was a Russian missile that took down that Israeli F-16, and it's Russian aircraft that are being used day in, day out hitting rebel enclaves in Syria, demonstrating them as viable alternatives to US systems.

    Syria is a live action, real-time arms exhibition for the Russians, and foreign customers are taking note.

    So far, Trump has been unwilling to take all but a few weak, half-hearted show measures while declining to impose any real additional costs on Russia. The Germans are all-in on NordStream 2. Without the US or Germany taking any real additional measures, Putin for now has rode out the storm, consolidated his gains, and moved on.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 03 Mar 18, at 04:32.

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    I don't think things are as rosy as that ironduke.

    Consider:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...nd-seen-slower

    For weapons, where are the customers? Russia is losing its biggest customer, China. India isn't so enamored with the Russian wares anymore either.

    Iran and Syria filling the gap? Indonesia? They are not big enough customers, and at any rate the types of investments Putin is making can't be won back by mere arms sales.

    Your believing too much in Putin's propaganda. He needs a major win and Syria is not it.

    The Khazaks are traditional Russsian satellites suffering major Chinese encroachment. It has a corrupt central government with weak popular support. China also showed him the potential of the area as a vital trade route from China to Europe and central Asia. Chinese wind projects are showing the country as a rich source of renewable energy.

    If Putin can make a play to reassert Russian dominance in the Khazaks, he will have


    1: reintegrated a lost part of the Soviet empire and blunted future Chinese influence in Russia's under belly.

    2: seized control of vital future trade routes.

    3: gained renewable energy resources resourcesfor supplying future Chinese needs.

    4: created conditions to further reconsolidate Russian influence in central Asia.

    All at considerably lower risk and cost than further encroachment into Europe or adventures in ME.

    Consider:

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order...-backyard/amp/

    And:

    Last edited by citanon; 03 Mar 18, at 05:43.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    I don't think things are as rosy as that ironduke.

    Consider:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...nd-seen-slower

    For weapons, where are the customers? Russia is losing its biggest customer, China. India isn't so enamored with the Russian wares anymore either.

    Iran and Syria filling the gap? Indonesia? They are not big enough customers, and at any rate the types of investments Putin is making can't be won back by mere arms sales.
    Besides a one-off sale of Su-35s to China in 2015, China was already lost 10 years ago. I don't think describing China as just recently being lost is an apt way to describe it.

    India will be a major loss if they go ahead and decide to ditch Russia as a supplier, but that has yet to play out. I think it's likely at this point India will go for a European supplier. Egypt though in particular stands out to me, reportedly the customer for some ~50 MIG-29s. And according to Jane's, Russian exports to the Middle East and North Africa have more than doubled in last several years. Iraq will likely become a purchaser of Russian weapons systems again in the near future. General Dynamics just pulled their M1 maintenance staff out a few weeks ago over end-user concerns.

    It's not all rainbow and sunshine for Russia, but I don't think their arms industry is going to fall off the cliff either.

    As far as the economic picture goes, things may not be "rosy", and I'm certainly not buying into "Putin's propaganda" (I'm not sure where you're even coming from with that), nor are things that bleak. They've settled for slow growth and stagnancy for the time being.

    Heavier costs needed to be imposed, and we've failed to do so. The US has dropped the ball on Russia and if we're not leading the charge, why should the Europeans care?

    All at considerably lower risk and cost than further encroachment into Europe or adventures in ME.
    Yeah, he already played all his cards as far as encroachment in Europe goes. His room for maneuvering is basically limited to dicking with Moldova (lol) in their upcoming 2019 election. He lost Ukraine forever. As I said before, we chopped off his left arm. But despite all of this, he has succeeded in limiting the costs the Europeans are willing to impose on him. The atmosphere in Brussels at the moment is that of Ukraine fatigue, and it seems they want to go back to pre-2014 business as usual vis-a-vis Russia.

    Seeing how things play out in Kazakhstan will be interesting.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 03 Mar 18, at 06:36.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Can we just put this down to domestic politics.

    Presidential elections next month yes ?

    He wants to show his people that he has at least brought them back from the brink.

    Needs 70% votes in his favour

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Can we just put this down to domestic politics.

    Presidential elections next month yes ?

    He wants to show his people that he has at least brought them back from the brink.

    Needs 70% votes in his favour
    Yeah, basically this.

    I wouldn't be surprised though if the Pentagon corps of deskbound generals try to use this to get increased funding for Star Wars stuff and whatnot. They'll probably be beating the drums for more funding, despite the fact the end result of a nuclear war would play out exactly the same. We don't need new nuclear weapons, "flexible" low yield warheads, or allow ourselves to get dragged into an expensive race over weapons shown in videos that look like they were made by high schoolers in a 3D graphics animation class.

    BTW, the Russian election is in 15 days. Not next month.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 03 Mar 18, at 06:48.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Besides a one-off sale of Su-35s to China in 2015, China was already lost 10 years ago. I don't think describing China as just recently being lost is an apt way to describe it.

    .....
    I don't think China is just lost as an arms customer. Due to dynamics in Central Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative, China is actually emerging as Russia's most problematic strategic competitor. Russia needs to tilt the equation.


    It's not all rainbow and sunshine for Russia, but I don't think their arms industry is going to fall off the cliff either.

    As far as the economic picture goes, things may not be "rosy", and I'm certainly not buying into "Putin's propaganda" (I'm not sure where you're even coming from with that), nor are things that bleak. They've settled for slow growth and stagnancy for the time being.
    I also not just thinking about "payoff" in the narrow sense for the Russian defense industry. I think Putin is looking for a wider set of payoffs for his economy as a whole.

    During the height of the Ukrainian crisis I described Russia as a bear, coming out of the woods to get all it can.

    To adopt a more historical analogy, I don't think Russia is becoming the new USSR. Russia is actually modeling itself as the new Rome with Putin modeling himself not as the Czar but as Caesar (heck he even looks a little like Caesar).

    Heavier costs needed to be imposed, and we've failed to do so. The US has dropped the ball on Russia and if we're not leading the charge, why should the Europeans care?
    I don't think we can impose heavier costs ad infinitum with the illusion that Russia will change its behavior. To continue along those lines, the best we can hope to do is to strangle its reach. But this is a dangerous game that cannot be pushed beyond a certain limit. I think we are where we need to be in terms of punishing Russia. What we need to do now is build or defenses and act to counter them with force and plausible deniability on a case wise basis (eg recent Syria incident).

    Yeah, he already played all his cards as far as encroachment in Europe goes. His room for maneuvering is basically limited to dicking with Moldova (lol) in their upcoming 2019 election. He lost Ukraine forever. As I said before, we chopped off his left arm. But despite all of this, he has succeeded in limiting the costs the Europeans are willing to impose on him. The atmosphere in Brussels at the moment is that of Ukraine fatigue, and it seems they want to go back to pre-2014 business as usual vis-a-vis Russia.

    Seeing how things play out in Kazakhstan will be interesting.
    Again, what would Rome do? Specifically, a declining Rome with Russian characteristics? I believe his goal will be to bring Kazakhstan forcefully back into his orbit so that over the long term, China will be forced to work with (pay off) Russia for its Eurasian silk road. In Putin's cynical thinking, this will actually force a longer term strategic partnership (by necessity) between Russia and China where as currently, the partnership is flipping towards competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Besides a one-off sale of Su-35s to China in 2015, China was already lost 10 years ago. I don't think describing China as just recently being lost is an apt way to describe it.

    .....
    I don't think China is just lost as an arms customer. Due to dynamics in Central Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative, China is actually emerging as Russia's most problematic strategic competitor. Russia needs to tilt the equation.


    It's not all rainbow and sunshine for Russia, but I don't think their arms industry is going to fall off the cliff either.

    As far as the economic picture goes, things may not be "rosy", and I'm certainly not buying into "Putin's propaganda" (I'm not sure where you're even coming from with that), nor are things that bleak. They've settled for slow growth and stagnancy for the time being.
    By "Putin's propaganda" I mean his pitch that Syria is helping him sell a lot more weapons. His big potential customers are drying up. The biggest one left is Iran (and that's some poor pickings). The world is also seeing what happens when Putin's invincible weapons meet American power.

    This latest incident in Syria is just the most serious of a string of US attacks on Putin's allies or proxies. How many times has the Russian forces even shown up to defend them? Even turned on that vaunted S400 system? Zero. That right there is also telling discerning customers something. So, Putin is putting a brave face on it all. Mid last year his bluster might have felt more real. Today? Not so much.

    I also not just thinking about "payoff" in the narrow sense for the Russian defense industry. I think Putin is looking for a wider set of payoffs for his economy as a whole.

    During the height of the Ukrainian crisis I described Russia as a bear, coming out of the woods to get all it can.

    To adopt a more historical analogy, I don't think Russia is becoming the new USSR. Russia is actually modeling itself as the new Rome with Putin modeling himself not as the Czar but as Caesar (heck he even looks a little like Caesar).

    Heavier costs needed to be imposed, and we've failed to do so. The US has dropped the ball on Russia and if we're not leading the charge, why should the Europeans care?
    I don't think we can impose heavier costs ad infinitum with the illusion that Russia will change its behavior. To continue along those lines, the best we can hope to do is to strangle its reach. But this is a dangerous game that cannot be pushed beyond a certain limit. I think we are where we need to be in terms of punishing Russia. What we need to do now is build or defenses and act to counter them with force and plausible deniability on a case wise basis (eg recent Syria incident).

    Yeah, he already played all his cards as far as encroachment in Europe goes. His room for maneuvering is basically limited to dicking with Moldova (lol) in their upcoming 2019 election. He lost Ukraine forever. As I said before, we chopped off his left arm. But despite all of this, he has succeeded in limiting the costs the Europeans are willing to impose on him. The atmosphere in Brussels at the moment is that of Ukraine fatigue, and it seems they want to go back to pre-2014 business as usual vis-a-vis Russia.

    Seeing how things play out in Kazakhstan will be interesting.
    Again, what would Rome do? Specifically, a declining Rome with Russian characteristics? I believe his goal will be to bring Kazakhstan forcefully back into his orbit so that over the long term, China will be forced to work with (pay off) Russia for its Eurasian silk road. In Putin's cynical thinking, this will actually force a longer term strategic partnership (by necessity) between Russia and China where as currently, the partnership is flipping towards competition.
    Last edited by citanon; 03 Mar 18, at 07:09.

  13. #13
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    I don't think China is just lost as an arms customer. Due to dynamics in Central Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative, China is actually emerging as Russia's most problematic strategic competitor. Russia needs to tilt the equation....

    ...Again, what would Rome do? Specifically, a declining Rome with Russian characteristics? I believe his goal will be to bring Kazakhstan forcefully back into his orbit so that over the long term, China will be forced to work with (pay off) Russia for its Eurasian silk road. In Putin's cynical thinking, this will actually force a longer term strategic partnership (by necessity) between Russia and China where as currently, the partnership is flipping towards competition.
    This is a case where China really can just play the long game. Russia's reliance on oil/gas prices and the generally poor state of its economy & society makes its influence in the 'near abroad' incredibly vulnerable. Inside a generation China is going to fund a web of transport & energy infrastructure across Central Asia all the way to the Persian Gulf. There is no way Moscow is going to be allowed to occupy a position that threatens either the construction or use of that infrastructure.

    In Europe & the Caucuses it has paid a very steep price to either gain or maintain influence. Every cent of that is a cent that doesn't go east. China, on the other hand, is just throwing money around in Asia, Africa & anywhere else that wants it. Whatever the historical ties Central Asia has to Russia, money talks & bullshit gets to watch. Those tinpot dictators will ultimately lean toward whoever can offer more money & infrastructure. China is going to eat that particular elephant at whatever speed it can. If Moscow tries to hit back or out spend, China can hold off for a while or step up spending. It has more time & more money.

    The sort of military action/bluff that has been used elsewhere by Putin is a lot riskier with China. I doubt Russia will be keen to test China's resolve in such a fashion.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    This is a case where China really can just play the long game. Russia's reliance on oil/gas prices and the generally poor state of its economy & society makes its influence in the 'near abroad' incredibly vulnerable. Inside a generation China is going to fund a web of transport & energy infrastructure across Central Asia all the way to the Persian Gulf. There is no way Moscow is going to be allowed to occupy a position that threatens either the construction or use of that infrastructure.

    In Europe & the Caucuses it has paid a very steep price to either gain or maintain influence. Every cent of that is a cent that doesn't go east. China, on the other hand, is just throwing money around in Asia, Africa & anywhere else that wants it. Whatever the historical ties Central Asia has to Russia, money talks & bullshit gets to watch. Those tinpot dictators will ultimately lean toward whoever can offer more money & infrastructure. China is going to eat that particular elephant at whatever speed it can. If Moscow tries to hit back or out spend, China can hold off for a while or step up spending. It has more time & more money.

    The sort of military action/bluff that has been used elsewhere by Putin is a lot riskier with China. I doubt Russia will be keen to test China's resolve in such a fashion.
    A major part of that network goes through Kazakhstan and other former USSR republics. What could China do if Russia reasserts itself?

    It seems to me it could do nothing except pay Russia off.

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    A major part of that network goes through Kazakhstan and other former USSR republics. What could China do if Russia reasserts itself?

    It seems to me it could do nothing except pay Russia off.
    In the short term Russia has the advantage based on historical links, but that will erode. Paying off Russia works OK for now, but Beijing isn't going to be interested in that as a long term strategy. They will be looking to get their claws into whoever is running the various Central Asian countries. Buy enough influence that Russia is no longer in a position to do require pay offs.

    Admittedly, Beijing has a poor record at these sort of games, but it is learning. More importantly, it is well resourced. Putin can't compete with that for long, especially if he is spending money in Europe, the Caucuses and the Middle East trying to make Russia seem more important.


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