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Russia, as the central constituency of the Soviet Union, was a strategic adversary of the United States until the end of the Cold War. Since then, more cooperative patterns of behavior have been established and the independent Russia has accepted American influence in its former spheres of influence – to some degree.


Russia currently has the largest arsenal of both strategic and theatre nuclear weapons. High maintenance costs and a relatively poor economy, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, have raised international concerns about proliferation of these weapons or technological knowhow since a large number of nuclear scientists have gone unemployed since 1989.


At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Russia was urged by United States/NATO to accept the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) cooperation proposals for an allied missile defense program.


Current Developments


Russian relations with the U.S. and NATO have taken steps backwards after the September 2011 U.S. missile defense agreements with Romania, Poland and Turkey. Russia has announced its disapproval over the system elements that were established without Russia being a part of the discussions. Russia was concerned about what can be aptly described as a “defensive” arms race. Russia, in 2011, asked for a “legal guarantee” that any future defense systems would not be aimed at strategic Russian forces. Given the current scope of missile defense capabilities and technology, a gross imbalance that would harm either country seems unlikely, largely because of economic reasons in Russia and the United States. All three parties hope to come closer to a more concise missile defense agreement at the NATO Chicago Summit 2012.


The New START Treaty signed between the US and Russia on February 5, 2011 reduced the number of nuclear and ballistic weaponry each country is allotted to have by 30% from the previous START treaty. The specific numbers are as follows: 1,550 deployed warheads, 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers and heavy bombers and 700 deployed ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. These limits must be met seven years after the signing of the treaty.


The NATO Lisbon Summit 2010 was the first time NATO and Russia had productive talks since ties were stifled during the 2008 Russian intervention in Georgia. One aspect of the November 2010 summit was talks of an expanded NATO missile defense system that would protect all of its members. Russian President Medvedev indicated Russia was willing to cooperate with NATO on such a system.


In April of 2012, the NATO Russia Commission (NRC) made bounds towards the major goal of interoperability of missile defense systems with the success of testing using computer hardware and software systems from NATO and Russia. This, hopefully, will provide a foundation for trust between Russia and the NATO countries, as a cooperative system will likely discourage doubt, usually stemming from the Russian government.  



Russia has at least 5200 operational warheads and additional 8000 in reserve of which some are prepared for dismantling. It has around 430 ICBMs with 1600 nuclear warheads. Russians has also made significant progress in MIRV technologies and is expected to MIRV some of their missiles. It has 48 silo-based missiles (type  Topol-M) and continues to deploy mobile  Topol-M systems. The country also continues to modernize its SLBM submarines and strategic bombers. Russia has relatively significant missile defense capability. One functional missile defense system is deployed around its capitol Moscow. This system is equipped with 100 interceptors (SH-11  Gorgon and SH-08  Gazelle). Russia has developed radar capability, although it leases some of its radars to other countries.

SA-10 missiles are capable to intercept more targets at low and high altitudes.  Russia has 1900 of these missiles. S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) system is counted to the missile defense and air defense capabilities are currently counting for a totally of over 2064 missiles.

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