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US uses Russia as bugbear to convince public that huge defense spending is crucial

November 09, 2015, 19:17 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
©  AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Last Saturday’s statement by US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to the effect Russia has challenged the world order and the United States will be protecting the interests of its allies and its own in various ways, including military means, was a political message rather than a military one, Russian experts believe. Carter claimed it was Russia that had forced the United States to upgrade its nuclear arsenal and invest into the development of advanced weapon systems, including a new strategic bomber and laser weapons. A day earlier Carter declared the United States would be making some adjustments to its military forces in the territory of the European Union.

"There is nothing new about what the United States has been doing," the leading expert at the military-political studies centre at the institute of international relations MGIMO, Mikhail Aleksandrov, has told TASS. "It initiated many spirals of the arms race in the past. I don’t see how it may influence Russia’s existing weapons upgrade programs. If it opts for disrupting the strategic offensive arms agreements, then certain problems may follow."

Aleksandrov sees no special threats to Russia in what Carter said. "I cannot imagine what they can do to achieve a fundamental breakthrough in the field of arms manufacturing technologies because we don’t sit on our hands, either." The Americans, he said, have lagged behind Russia in the field of strategic offensive weapons somewhat.

"They are considerably far behind our ground-based missiles. We have a competitive edge in aircraft, too. Our strategic Tupolev-160 bomber is better than their B-1 Lancer. As for the nuclear submarine-launched missiles, we are in balance. And their Trident II missile and our Bulava are equals."

Aleksandrov believes that the real purpose of such statements is to put political pressure on Russia to make it abandon an independent foreign policy and abide by US rules."

"May everything that high-ranking US military are saying about Russia’s saber-rattling and war-mongering rest on their conscience," military expert Viktor Murakhovsky has told TASS. "These are statements likely to be heard from politicians, and not military specialists."

Many plans were drafted before the events in Ukraine, said Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva (Arsenal of the Fartherland) magazine. "The plans for upgrading nuclear bombs being deployed in Europe were adopted back five years ago. Now they are materializing. The missile defense was deployed in Europe long before these events. The sole relatively new development is the deployment in the Baltic countries and Poland of several units equivalent in overall strength to one brigade-level combat group. But that was a purely symbolic gesture, because from the military standpoint troops should be massed up at one place to be able to cope with certain tactical tasks and operative missions. In this case they were scattered among several countries." Generally speaking "there is much more politics than purely military affairs involved," Murakhovsky said.

All of the programs Carter mentioned were launched long before the Ukrainian crisis, agrees senior research fellow Vasily Kashin, of the Strategies and Technologies Analysis Centre. "Take the US nuclear arsenal. It is very close to the expiration date. Time is ripe for replacing it," he told TASS. "As for the new bomber, they have systematically worked on it for quite a while. Research into laser weapons, too, began long before the latest events. Russia these days is a handy scapegoat providing excuse for all military programs and making it easy to convince the public at large why they are so necessary.

"The United States would be pushing ahead with these programs anyway. Russia would have to retaliate somehow, the only difference being there would have been no such vocal statements," Kashin said.

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