MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti)
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Russia's Defense Ministry has abandoned plans to set up a unified command structure for the country’s nuclear triad, the newspaper Izvestia reported on Monday.
As a result, each major branch of the Armed Forces – the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), the Air Force and the Navy - will retain control over its own triad component, Izvestia said, citing an unidentified source in the ministry.
In the absence of any official statement from the ministry, the paper suggested that the decision might result from an unresolved internal struggle for leadership within the new structure.
The creation of a unified strategic nuclear command has been one option under consideration by the Russian military since late 1990’s. The idea’s proponents, including former SMF commander Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, argue it would streamline both the development and the deployment of Russia’s nuclear triad.
The plan envisioned the direct subordination of the command to the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
According to the latest official figures, Russia has 494 deployed launchers for land, sea and air-based missiles armed with 1,492 warheads.
Russia’s Defense Ministry plans to acquire at least eight Borey class strategic nuclear submarines, thoroughly upgrade its fleet of Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, and equip its Strategic Missile Forces with formidable Yars ballistic missile systems.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.