MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) Analysts cannot calculate number of Russian, U.S. nuclear warheads / NATO invites Kazakhstan to join Afghan peacekeeping operation / Russia gets new national security plan / Vietnam set to become a top importer of Russian weapons
Analysts cannot calculate number of Russian, U.S. nuclear warheads
Russian analysts are at a loss over a report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) on Russian-American nuclear parity recently published in Washington. The data on the two countries' nuclear capability differ, which could seriously complicate the drafting of a new strategic arms reduction treaty.
According to the FAS, the United States has 2,700 deployed nuclear warheads and 2,500 in reserve, while Russia has 4,830 and 3,500, respectively.
Russian military analysts question these calculations.
Alexander Khramchikhin, an analyst at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, said Russia has 3,100 nuclear warheads while the U.S. has 5,700.
Monica Amarelo, director of communications at the FAS, said the authors of the report used reliable sources but refused to name them.
"The return potential accumulated in Russia and the United States allows them to play with data on the number of warheads," Khramchikhin said.
When the Cold War ended, the two countries removed a large number of warheads from combat duty but did not destroy a substantial proportion of them. These warheads are only being prepared for destruction, the analyst said.
Khramchikhin said: "The fuss over warheads has confirmed the correctness of Moscow's stand. Russia is pressing for reducing not only warheads but also their delivery vehicles under a new agreement with the United States."
The analyst said that the delivery vehicles should be calculated in terms of warheads they can carry.
"For example, a Trident II missile can carry eight warheads, and so a limit of one warhead per such missile will not do," Khramchikhin said, adding that another seven warheads could be mounted on the missile from the reserve stock.
NATO invites Kazakhstan to join Afghan peacekeeping operation
NATO has officially invited Kazakhstan to take part in its security and development mission in Afghanistan. Robert Simmons, the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said the Kazakh army had already achieved interoperability with NATO forces and could make a good showing during the Afghan mission.
The secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) comprising Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, said Kazakhstan, the most active member, was unlikely to send its troops to war-torn Afghanistan.
CSTO officials said off the record that they doubted whether Astana would send its troops to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and that among CSTO members there existed a common position on relations with NATO.
Before joining any military coalitions or signing the relevant agreements, any CSTO country must hold consultations with its partners. However, Kazakhstan has not held any consultations to date.
Kazakhstan has not confirmed or denied that it has received the invitation.
It would be in Kazakhstan's interests to support efforts to stabilize the situation in nearby Afghanistan.
If the NATO-U.S. peacekeeping operation fails, and if the Taliban once again seize power in Kabul, then they might try and spread their influence outside Afghanistan and could strike north, just as they did in the late 20th century.
NATO coalition forces, Central Asian states and even Russia must team up in order to combat terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and illegal migration.
Although NATO-country leaders are making high-sounding statements about their readiness to send more troops to Afghanistan at Washington's request, none of them is in a hurry to do this.
Colonel Greg Julian, the top U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan, noted mounting NATO casualties and said they had increased three times compared with the previous year.
In effect, NATO is asking Kazakhstan to join the fighting in Afghanistan.
Vedomosti, Gazeta.ru, RBC daily
Russia gets new national security plan
Russia is no longer threatened by impoverishment, separatism or crime, according to the National Security Strategy to 2020, a policy document signed by President Dmitry Medvedev.
The president talked about the country's need for a new security strategy in September 2008, after the war over South Ossetia. The 1997 National Security Concept, although updated in 2000, was obsolete, he said.
The updated 2000 Concept cited the key threats facing Russia, including the division of society into a small group of rich and a predominant mass of poor, growing separatist trends, terrorism, a flawed state power structure, criminalized social relations and growing organized crime, as well as ineffective social security and healthcare systems. However, in the Strategy to 2020, there is no mention of any of these former threats.
These threats are no longer as big as they used to be, explained a source in Russia's Security Council. For example, terrorism is included in the new strategy, but it is no longer such a large threat as it was nine years ago: Russia now has a National Antiterrorist Committee, and the counterterrorist operation in Chechnya has been successfully completed.
The 2009 Strategy features a new priority, protection of Russian citizens' interests outside the country. According to human rights activist Svetlana Ganushkina, it was included for purely political reasons, meaning the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
The current economic downturn can still produce threats not included in the Strategy, said Yevgeny Gontmakher, head of social policy at the Russian Academy of Sciences. But the repercussions of the economic crisis are included, said a Security Council source, explaining that the criteria to determine the state of national security include the unemployment rate and price indexes at the top of the list. However, the source admitted that no parameters are specified but have to be defined by the government.
The government did not include any specific figures to avoid responsibility in case of failure to meet them, said Vyachelsav Senchagov, member of the Security Council's research department who helped draft the Strategy.
Stanislav Belkovsky, founder and president of the National Strategy Institute, said the document was too general and vague. "It is rather a formal strategy than a policy with specific content," he said.
According to Konstantin Simonov, head of Russia's Center for Current Politics, the gap between theory and practice is the problem with most Russian doctrines.
Vietnam set to become a top importer of Russian weapons
Vietnam, which is buying 12 Su-30MK2 multirole fighter planes, may become one of the world's top five importers of Russian weaponry.
In January, the Vietnamese Defense Ministry and Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed an agreement on the delivery of the 12 aircraft beginning in 2010, said a manager of a plant that produces components for the planes.
A source at another defense plant, which makes weapons for Vietnam, has confirmed this information, saying the contract does not include the planes' armaments.
A Rosoboronexport spokesman refused to comment.
Vietnam previously received Soviet-made weapons on easy terms under loan contracts, but its economy improved enough for the country to start buying Russian weapons in the 1990s, including for its air force.
According to The Military Balance, an annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense budgets of 170 countries worldwide compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Vietnamese Air Force has 140 MiG-21bis fighters and 53 Su-22M3/M4 fighter-bombers supplied during the Soviet era.
Vietnam received 12 Su-27SK/UBK fighters in the 1990s and four Su-30MKK multirole fighters in 2004, said Konstantin Makiyenko, an analyst at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The purchase of the 12 new planes will greatly enhance its air force's combat capability.
The batch costs over $500 million (without weaponry), and the requisite missiles and ground-based equipment may cost several hundred million dollars more, the analyst said.
In April, Vietnam and Rosoboronexport discussed the supply of six Project 636 submarines (Improved Kilo), sometimes called "The Black Hole" by the U.S. Navy for its uncanny ability to "disappear." The news was made public by the management of the St. Petersburg-based Admiralty Shipyard, where the submarines will be built.
If Vietnam and Russia agree on the $1.8 billion deal involving the six subs, Vietnam will become one of the top five importers of Russian weapons within a few years. The other four are India, Algeria, Venezuela and China, Makiyenko said.
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