In the event of a warning signal of a missile attack against Russia, the country’s authorities will have tens of minutes at their disposal to make a decision on a reciprocal measure, Anatoly Nestechuk, head of the command unit of the 15th Army of the Russian Special Purpose Aerospace Forces, told radio station Echo of Moscow.
“The flying time can be different depending on directions, where it flies from and how it does. This indicator requires really serious willpower to quickly make a decision”, Nestechuk started off, adding that “generally speaking, the time is very sufficient”. “Not minutes, not tens of minutes – more than tens of minutes, so to speak”, he explained.
The commander also stated that the Aerospace Forces are proposing including the construction of radiolocation stations for the nuclear attack warning system as part of a new post-2025 state armament programme.
“It is crucial for us to receive data about adversaries from other strategic aerospace directions. We know these places and are working actively so that the Defence Ministry includes this point in a state armament programme”, the top officer said, adding that in line with the ongoing plan, that 2021 will see a new radiolocation point in Vorkuta in northern Russia, in 2022, such a station will be built in Olenegorsk in the Murmansk Region, and in 2024 – in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Russian authorities have reiterated multiple times that they view nuclear weapons as a defensive measure, stressing that Moscow may, in theory, attack only as a reciprocal move. According to President Vladimir Putin, such a decision may come along if the nuclear attack warning systems not only register the launch of a missile, but accurately track the trajectory and time when the warhead would reach Russian territory.
This week, the Russian president noted that international security matters worsened after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), adding that Russia will have to reciprocate in kind if the US places its missiles in Asia. Putin assumed it is not due to Russia and its "mystical" violation of the INF treaty that the US ditched the deal, arguing that if the country "is planning to locate missiles in Asia, then Asia is the root cause of the withdrawal".
The INF deal, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, was terminated on 2 August at the United States' behest, after the country formally suspended its INF obligations six months earlier. Both sides had repeatedly accused each other of violating the deal, which banned any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).