MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. Demonstration of Russia’s breakthrough Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle to American specialists may stir the United States into extending the New START agreement, former chief-of-staff of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Viktor Yesin, told TASS on Tuesday.
"Ahead of the deployment of the new missile system in December, the missile to be deployed is demonstrated to the other party. It is a standard procedure envisaged by the treaty [New START]. Obviously, it should give the Americans an extra stimulus to extend the treaty," he said, adding that this way the Russian side is demonstrating its strict compliance with the treaty’s provisions and is ready to show even its newest weapons as required by the New START.
He recalled that the current agreement expires on February 5, 2021. "We have less than 18 months left. I think this time is quite enough [to have the treaty extended — TASS], should both parties have political will for that. As far as I understand, we do have political will but the Americans are not yet ripe to do it," Yesin noted.
The United States wants to sign a new agreement on strategic weapons that would cover all advanced developments. Moreover, such an agreement, according to the US side, should be signed by China as well, along with Russia and the United States, Yesin recalled. "But it is unrealistic in the current conditions because China is not willing to take part in such talks," he added.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier in the day that the latest Avangard missile system had been demonstrated to a US inspection group. According to the ministry, it was done for the purpose of keeping the New START Treaty viable and effective. The ministry said the Avangard system would assume combat duty in December this year.
Avangard hypersonic system
The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. According to open sources, the breakthrough weapon was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov, the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. The boost-glide vehicle is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.
The new weapon was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1 last year. The Russian leader told a board meeting of the Defense Ministry in late 2018 that Russia had launched the serial production of Avangard hypersonic missile systems. Putin stressed at the time that the Avangard, along with Sarmat missiles, Kinzhal and Peresvet missile systems, would boost the potential of the Army and the Navy to guarantee Russia’s security for decades to come.
The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers.
The New START Treaty will remain in force for 10 years, until 2021, unless it is replaced before that date by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It can also be extended for no longer than 5 years (that is, until 2026) by the parties’ mutual consent.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay prolongation of the treaty it describes as the gold standards in the area of disarmament.
Answering a TASS question on November 4, US President Donald Trump said the United States would like to sign a new arms control agreement with Russia, China and, maybe, a number of other countries. He did not say however whether the United States was planning to extend the New START agreement.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in an interview with the Financial Times in late June that once this treaty ceased to exist, "then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race."