Medvedev Inaugurates Strategic Missile Unit, Says Russian Strategic Interests Are Inviolable
February 22, 2012 • 9:28AM

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Tuesday visited the 60th Missile Division of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, located in the Saratov Region in the Volga River valley. The occasion, two days before Russian Armed Forces Day, was to inaugurate active duty of a new Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile regiment. Code-named SS-27 by NATO, the Topol-M is an upgrade of the Topol (SS-25) missile first introduced in the 1980s. Designed to be either silo-based or road-mobile, it is one of Russia's core strategic nuclear weapons, with an estimated range of over 10 thousand km and MIRVable (capable of being armed with multiple independently targettable reentry vehicles).

Medvedev conducted a discussion with strategic missile forces officers concerning military housing, before turning to the strategic implications of the U.S./NATO installation of anti-missile systems in Europe. Asked by a colonel if Medvedev's hard line on Russia's taking countermeasures against these ABM systems — he addressed the issue in a special message to the nation in November 2011 and again in his Message to the Federal Assembly in December — meant "the beginning of a confrontation with the Western nations," Medvedev replied, "It does not mean the beginning of a confrontation, but it means just one thing: we cannot be indifferent to their plans, because they concern our strategic interests."

The Russian commander-in-chief reiterated that only two events could make Russia change its plans to counter the ABM systems, which he once again identified as "essentially an extension of the strategic rocket forces by other means" (i.e., the "defensive" ABMs could be aimed to intercept Russian strategic missiles attempting to launch a retaliatory or "second" strike). Those two conditions are: "if our partners either abandon the plan, or if they propose to us an arrangement for our participation in joint development of anti-missile defenses." In summary, Medvedev said, "I want to underline it once again, this is not some sort of Russian militarism or Cold War relic, this is simply a sober analysis and we cannot act any other way." He said several times that this would be the case, regardless of who became the next President of Russia.