I know I am repeating myself non-stop and at some point it may even look like an obsession, but, as events of the last several years have shown, it is better to be obsessed and hammer the point home, than continue on the previous, very dangerous trajectory. So, here it is: most of the US "Russian Studies" field is a wasteland of ignorant hacks and shysters. It is especially true in the fields related to the evolution of Russia's geopolitical views but even more so in military-political field. While many in US still continue to write a truck load of all kinds of speculations on what and how Russia's military evolves, it becomes absolutely clear that most of those people, using Russian proverb, open the book and see a middle finger extended from there (Smotryat v knigu--vidyat figu). Figa, a combination of five fingers, a physical expression of fuck you, obviously, in today's global informational world, lost out to a more universal extended middle finger but, I assume, you get the picture--this is what US Russia "experts" see when they deal with Russian military and that is why coherent and reasonable assessments of Russia's military are such a rare commodity in the US. More importantly, most of those "experts" can not even interpret a real open book of Russia's modern military doctrine, which openly emphasizes conventional High Precision Weapons (HPW) as preferred weapons when defending Russia:
26. В рамках выполнения мероприятий стратегического сдерживания силового характера Российской Федерацией предусматривается применение высокоточного оружия.
Translation: Within the framework of the measures of power character (kinetic, combat) for strategic containment by Russian Federation the use of High Precision Weapons is suggested.
What's not to understand here? It is in the open, it is clear, however formal, Russian language which is easily translated to any language. The pp.26 precedes pp.27 (the use of nuclear weapons), thus denoting the precedence, priority of conventional weapons over nuclear when dealing with the strategic threat. I write about the tectonic military paradigm shift constantly, such as here:
It was none other than general designer of Bulava SLBM Yuri Solomonov who in 2008 predicted that US will offer in some form to get rid of nuclear weapons based on perception of own advantage in high precision weapons. Solomonov made a mistake in only one sense--that the offer will be made openly. In reality the US was moving into conventional paradigm for quite a while now, enough to take a look at really rundown state of US nuclear deterrent.
Wars can not be fought with strategic nuclear weapons--everyone understands that. Those weapons are deterrents, not actual weapons of war. United States wanted the shift away from nuclear to conventional for a simple reason--it thought that it possesses a vast superiority in those weapons, both qualitative and quantitative. Well, it is not the case anymore and it has not been the case for some time. Russia's military doctrine practically spells out the "preference" for the conventional option. Isn't it very much following in the wake of what the United States was doing for the last couple decades militarily? I write about possible conflict between Russia and US escalating into nuclear exchange not because Russia will initiate it but because of the United States, approaching possible conflict with Russia conventionally, will encounter military realities it never encountered before. The scale of losses and, with it, of operational and strategic failures, knowing the "character" of many "exceptionalists" in the US military-political top, will force them to commit unthinkable. This is the main idea behind my warnings about dangers of possible conventional conflict between Russia and US which, and I hope the use of Past Tense is justified here, existed in the Ukraine and Syria.
The paradigm shifted sometime ago, and apart from Military Doctrine, more, down to earth, elaborations on the status of Russia's military views started to appear in main stream media interpretations. One of them (in Russian) is today's interview of former Russian Air Force Deputy Commander Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev to a very popular Russian media outlet "Vzglyad". There, Bizhev reiterates an old point of many High Precision Weapons having operational and strategic impact properties of nuclear ones, without destruction of civilian infrastructure and vast civilian casualties. Rabidly pro-Western (that is Russo-phobic) Moscow Times didn't hesitate to find a conflict where there is none (nothing else is expected from ignorant hacks) but they also carried the news of Sergei Shoigu merely articulating a new military technological reality of High Precision Weapons (HPW) paradigm. For any observer of Soviet/Russian military with even rudimentary knowledge of evolution of Soviet and Russian military thinking it was clear that such a shift, which already started in the late 1970s but was temporarily arrested by the economic and political collapse of the 1990s, was inevitable. Now the obvious was stated.
Make no mistake, there will be (actually, there is already) hysteria coming from all kinds of US lap dogs such as Poland or Baltic States, who, eventually, will become completely irrational (not that they are much rational now) who would interpret (for a number of bad reasons) any Russia's conventional move as a direct threat to them. And it is, if one considers NATO's troops being deployed there for the attack on Russia. Russian military has such a "thing" called "ugrozhaemyi period", that is "threatening period", which is a time, speaking in layman's lingo, when the attack on Russia is imminent: the necessary enemy forces are assembled and pre-deployed, political and military intelligence identify signs and patterns of preparation for the war, etc. Just an example, if deployment of the US 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team in Poland and Baltics is hardly a sign of the impending strike, a pre-deployment of several US and NATO divisions and Air Force operational units at Russian or Ukrainian border combined with militant Russo-phobic propaganda in Western media and calls from high tribunes to "punish" Russia--well, then it is a totally different matter and this is precisely where Russian HPWs come into play. Most of the assembly areas of the enemy troops, including their C4ISR centers, will be identified, airfields too, and the sequence of the events is pretty predictable after that. NATO will have to face what it never faced before in its history--a massive salvo of cruise missiles, which are HPWs, at their military infrastructure in staging areas. Of course, some missiles will be shot down, but dealing with massive first strike which will contain huge numbers of Iskanders, Kalibrs and X-101s, is not something NATO or US are capable of dealing with, especially when many of sensors and communications will be suppressed.
This is containment in a nutshell: degrading enemy's capabilities in order to compel it to refuse from attacking Russia. If not, well--conventional war starts and NATO will have to deal with the first-class military. Such a war will be fought on the territory of Poland, Ukraine and Baltic States but it will not be fought on Russia's territory. If, after that, NATO forces will still be willing, let alone capable, to mount an attack on Russia, London, Paris, Brussels among many will have to face conventional attack on their military-industrial and political infrastructure. But what about the United States, who will be in charge of all this mayhem? It is not immune anymore to conventional strike and resumption of production of TU-160 (in reality a completely new bomber bearing superficial similarity to old Blackjacks) is a first indication that having about 600 long range stand off HPWs in first salvo from 50 new TU-160s, which will be reliably protected by Air Defense inside Russia's airspace is really a very unpleasant perspective. Once one considers another around 50 old timers such as TU-95 Bears, who are capable to launch 8 (eight) X-101 weapons, without leaving Russia's airspace, one may begin to grasp the "weight" of such salvo from Russia's strategic aviation. And that is without considering other old-timers such as TU-22M3s capable of launching X-32 Mach=5, 1000 km range, missiles. Those are not interceptable by anything in NATO's arsenal and with the range of 1000 km are exactly the weapons to be launched at the staging areas, without leaving own air-space. If to consider that, by different estimates, there are already and will be about 50 of such machines in service soon, each capable of carrying 6 such missiles, we may finally speculate on the weight of this salvo, say, by 2025. From Russia's Strategic (Dalnyaya) Long Range Aviation we can count about 1100 to 1300 standoff HPWs ready to be launched. Add to the mix land-based launchers, a naval component, capable of launching just about anything and the grim picture for any aggressor emerges. Hence this:
What Ralph Peters, who passes in US as Russian "military expert", does not understand is that Russian Armed Forces are not in the business of "humiliating" anyone. In fact, be that in Soviet or present times, there was always a great deal of a professional respect to the US military in Russia. Russians, however, do not celebrate victories over pathetically inept enemies. Russian military is in a business of defending own nation and its closest allies. Russia is also in a business of fighting real wars and for that Russia has all necessary tools. Now (or rather since around 2008) she has all necessary conventional high precision stand off weapons which can deal a massive conventional blow to any enemy before it even contemplates doing a stupid thing. The gap in stand off weapons will continue to grow with some really bizarre and cutting edge technologies coming online shortly: from the whole spectrum of hyper-sonic weapons to something akin to Sarmat ICBM, capable of carrying hyper-sonic, maneuverable conventional "gliders". But Russia is not going to use them, unless attacked first or is about to be attacked. Russia's military doctrine is explicit on that but more than that--Russia's history, a real one, not the one narrated in US by hysterical (and incompetent) Russophobes, especially the history of invasions into Russia and massive losses and devastation she sustained because of that--this is the only true indicator of Russia's intentions in 21st century. To be left alone. No nation in the history knows better what war is and what tragedy and suffering can it bring. That is why, with Trump's victory, any chance should be used to rearrange the world in such a way that no conventional, let alone nuclear, weapon should ever be used between major powers. It is possible, especially now, when the world is really becoming multi-polar and diplomacy must take precedence. Russia was calling for that always, sadly, American warmongers interpreted it as a sign of weakness, well.... Times change, and the tables turn, don't they?