Saturday, 21 May 2011

Russian Bear Flexes Its Missile Muscles As War of Words Heats Up With U.S.

Russia conducted its second intercontinental ballistic missile test in less than a month on May 20 as it stepped up its campaign against a US-backed interceptor system for Europe.

News reports said the Sineva missile was launched from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea and later successfully hit its target on the opposite side of the country on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

"The launch was conducted from a submerged position," defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.

"The warheads hit the test range on schedule," he added.

The Sineva submarine-launched missile is one of the most recent additions to Russia's nuclear arsenal and was only fully tested for the first time in 2008. Each missile carries up to 10 warheads and has a range of more than 6,800 miles. It was the second submerged missile launch conducted by Russia since April 26.

Russia occasionally tests its heavy nuclear missiles as it upgrades outdated models with new features and capabilities.

But the tests are also often seen as a show of force that coincide with diplomatic tensions with the West. Russia had scaled back its testing program as it negotiated a new nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States that went into effect after nearly a decade of tortuous negotiations earlier this year.

Yet Moscow is currently furious with Washington for pushing ahead with plans to deploy a missile defense system for Europe - a shield that Russia fears could one day be transformed into an offensive weapon that targets its soil.

Russia has demanded an equal say in how the system works and also sought formal security safeguards from the United States confirming the shield's peaceful long-term intent.

But both the United States and NATO have refused to let Russia have an equal say in the system's construction and operation. Moscow diplomats said Washington has also refused their safeguards request.

President Dmitry Medvedev warned earlier this week that Washington's failure to address Russia's concerns could lead to a new Cold War, and his comments were echoed on May 20 by the chief of the military's general staff. Gen. Nikolai Makarov said the system could pose a direct challenge to Russia's security once it becomes more powerful in 2015 and force Moscow to channel funds on new weapons development that could lead to "a mad arms race".

"No one needs a new round of the arms race," Makarov said.

USA will be advised not to get into this saber rattling because it already has too much on its plate while the Russians have nothing else to do but pick a fight with USA. They are not engaged like US army all over the globe.