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Defense chief: Russia needs to develop ground-based cruise and hypersonic missiles by 2020

Shoigu has ordered to start experimental design work
Russia's missile ship firing a Kalibr cruise missile  Russian Defense Ministry press service/TASS
Russia's missile ship firing a Kalibr cruise missile
© Russian Defense Ministry press service/TASS

MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. The ground-based version of the sea-launched Kalibr system with the long-range cruise missile has to be developed in 2019-2020 and the same timeframe is required for creating a ground-based long-range hypersonic missile system, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the ministry’s conference call on Tuesday.

"The General Staff has submitted to the supreme commander-in-chief a list of measures, which he has approved. In 2019-2020, we need to develop the ground-based version of the sea-launched Kalibr system with the long-range cruise missile, which has proven its worth in Syria," the defense minister said.

"Within the same time limits, we need to develop the ground-based system with the long-range hypersonic missile," the defense minister said.

These measures will be implemented in the wake of the US decision to suspend from February 2 its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"At the same time, they [the United States] are actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500km, which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations. In this situation, the Russian president has set the task for the Defense Ministry to take tit-for-tat mirrored measures," Shoigu said.

As the Russian defense minister pointed out, "the use of sea-and air-borne missiles in their ground-based version will help considerably cut the time of manufacturing new missile weapons and the volume of their financing."

"Besides, it is necessary to increase the firing range of ground-based missile systems being developed today," the defense minister said.

Shoigu instructed Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko "to start the corresponding experimental design work within a short period of time within the appropriations allocated under the defense procurement plan for 2019 and for the planned period of 2020-2021 by re-distributing funds for the fulfillment of this work."

Road to INF exit

On Friday, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Washington would suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty starting February 2 and would quit it within six months if Russia did not come into compliance with the agreement.

A day later, on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded in kind, saying that Moscow would suspend the Cold War-era arms reduction treaty. Moreover, he told his ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, underscoring that the United States should become "mature enough" for equal and meaningful dialogue. Putin pointed out that Russia would start work on the development of new weapons mirroring Washington’s steps. In particular, work will begin on a new hypersonic ground-launched medium-range missile.

The US began censuring Russia for allegedly breaking the treaty in July 2014. Since then, Washington has repeated its accusations on many occasions. In turn, Moscow has rebuffed these allegations and advanced counterclaims against the US, saying that Washington has failed to comply with the accord.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, entered into force on June 1, 1988. The INF deal covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers). By June 1991, the parties had met their obligations under the treaty, as the Soviet Union had destroyed 1,846 missiles and the United States eliminated 846.