A study on: Exploring U.S. Missile Defense Requirements in 2010: What Are the Policy and Technology Challenges?

Chapter 2

Russia: Friend, Foe, or Accidental Threat?

Strategic Setting


Within the context established in Chapter One, the major missile defense related challenges likely to face the United States in 2010 need to be assessed in some detail.

As it is the major state actors, such as Russia, India, and China, that have the greatest potential for disrupting the international status quo in ways in which only the United States is likely to be able to counter, these are the states which will undoubtedly become the “pacing states” upon which future U.S. defense planning must be most focused.

Despite the relative loss of power that has beset Russia in recent years, Russia, with its large nuclear force structure, extensive military technology capabilities, and large inventory of poorly secured weapon systems, still presents a major potential for directly or indirectly influencing or changing the international system in ways threatening to the U.S. military and/or to the United States itself. Although the so-called rogue states have the potential to trigger wars within their respective regions and, if they should prove successful in their quest for effective inventories of weapons of mass destruction, could pose a significant threat to the United States and its international interests, it is the major states that have the greatest potential for mounting military challenges sufficiently large so that only the United States would have the capabilities to counter them within their respective regions of influence. As Russia is still foremost among these powers, it will be assessed first.

Russia's Apparent National Objectives

As Russia is currently preoccupied with its internal affairs, it is difficult to enumerate with any degree of authority a listing of Russia's official national objectives. As Aleksey Arbatov carefully points out in a detailed paper published in May 1994, Russia has not yet developed a coherent foreign policy.1 Nevertheless, a careful review of the comments and writings of Russia's political elite provides some recurring patterns of thought from which insights can be derived.

1. Russia seeks its former level of international status (the status accorded to the former Soviet Union) — to include a larger share of global markets (arms) and greater influence in the international decision-making process.

One of the main irritations expressed by Russia's political community is frustration over its diminished international stature in the post-Cold War order. Moreover, there is a high degree of anger over the decline in Russia's share of the international arms market.2 Many Russian leaders claim that much of the United States' criticism and pressure to halt potential Russian arms sales to so-called rogue nations, in actuality, is part of a U.S. ploy to dominate the global arms market. Russians look at the increase in U.S. arms market share and complain that the United States is trying to destroy Russia's defense industries and gain a monopoly for its own industries. As a result, Russia's political community is becoming much more adamant regarding Russia' right to sell arms to whomever it wishes.

2. Russia wants to encourage a military balance in East Asia; it perceives itself as vulnerable in that region. (Its historic fear of Japan is again becoming evident.)

Russia's policy community believes that a withdrawal of U.S. forces from East Asia would undoubtedly result in a rearming of Japan — a possibility most Russians fear. Thus, an apparent majority seem to believe that a limited U.S. presence in East Asia (one sufficient to reassure Japan but limited enough to be kept in check by the other states) would be beneficial to Russia's national interests and contribute to a stable East Asian balance of power. Within a new power alignment, many Russians seem to believe that a reunified Korea would prove to be the natural ally of Russia—thus Russia is actively courting both North and South Korea.3 With regard to China, there seems to be divided opinion. There are those in the Russian policy community who believe that a more capable China would tend to expand its interests toward the South, which would pose problems for the United States and divert U.S. attention away from Russian affairs. Concurrently, a few political thinkers also fear that Russia's technical and military assistance to China is an act of “selling China the rope to hang themselves” since China has a long-standing claim to much of the Russian Far East which was wrested from China by the Czars during the previous century.4

Regardless of these cited reservations, the fact remains that Russia and China are growing closer together in the face of U.S. policies that are displeasing to both countries. Depending on the source of the report, the conservative estimate is that at least 1000 Russian technicians are working in China's nuclear and rocket programs.5 Between 1991 and 1994, China is estimated to have purchased between $4.5 and $6 billion worth of weapons and military equipment from Russia.6 Included in this trade are advanced military aircraft, Kilo submarines, defense manufacturing facilities, defensive missile systems, and reportedly, key ICBM missile components (and possibly manufacturing information).7 For Russia, China is a source of inexpensive consumer goods and provides an easily accessible market for its defense production. In addition, the possible option of using China as Russia's “China card” to help maintain a check on U.S. behavior may well become part of Russia's national security game plan. Thus, the future Russian-Chinese relationship will be a key factor in the United States' future security equation.

3. Russia plans to exercise hegemony over Central Asia and ensure that the region does not threaten Russian security.

There is a significant level of unhappiness about the loss of Russian control over greater Central Asia. This region contains the world's second largest reserves of petroleum, is rich in natural resources and raw materials, contains a majority of the 20 million ethnic Russians who live outside of Russia's borders, and is judged to be the direction of greatest security vulnerability (Russia's soft underbelly). As a result, many in Russia's policy-making community deeply regret Russia's loss of direct control over the region and are actively working to maintain indirect control.8 As an exacerbating factor, the area's dominant Islamic and Turkic religious and ethnic roots are viewed as potential avenues for exploitation by Turkey and Iran.9 Russia wants to prevent Turkey from expanding its influence in Central Asia, while concurrently ensuring that Iran does not use its religious influence to fan the flames of Islamic fundamentalism.

Toward this end, most Russians seem to view the development of close ties with Iran as a vehicle for furthering Russia's national interests. Russians seem to believe that if Iran views Russia as a strategic partner, then it will be less likely to inflame the Islamic populations of Central Asia in ways that could be detrimental to Russia's national interests. Moreover, most Russians also seem to think that the development of Iran's military capability will act as a check on Turkey's influence in the region, while, at the same time, helping to provide a bulwark against unfettered U.S. domination of the Persian Gulf region.

In a similar vein, there seems to be significant Russian interest in the idea of developing a close relationship with Iran, India, perhaps China, and a unified Korea to balance the power of the United States, Japan, Turkey, and related allies that could threaten Russian interests — particularly in Central and Eastern Asia.10 The concept would use India and Iran to check U.S. influence in South Asia and the Persian Gulf, while China and perhaps a unified Korea would keep Japan and U.S. Pacific-deployed forces balanced.

4. Russia hopes to develop the capability of participating effectively in the international economy.

Russians well understand that membership in the international economic system is key to their future. Indeed, some well-placed Russians claim that the moderation of Soviet behavior during the late 1980s was in part triggered by a fear that Europe was about to integrate politically and leave the Soviet Union permanently isolated outside of the European economic system. Meanwhile, Russia has since become disenchanted with the West, the movement toward true European integration has slowed, and it is unlikely that Russia ever will be invited to become a member of the European Union. In addition, the West seems bent on limiting Russia's influence in international affairs. Consequently, political support for the pro-Western policy adopted at the conclusion of the Cold War has largely evaporated.11

As a result, Russia can be expected to steer a more independent political course in the future as it pursues its national interests. Nevertheless, Russia also understands that it must exercise caution and discretion when acting contrary to U.S. wishes as the potential economic consequences must be balanced against the security issues involved. Considering the unpredictability of Russia's political future, it is uncertain how Russia will balance internally its economic needs and desires to integrate into the international economic system against its national security interests. Moreover, it is not yet clear if Russia's experiment with democracy and capitalism will survive the problems plaguing that system. A return to an authoritarian government or a further breakdown of central authority in Russia could significantly alter the situation outlined in the foregoing.

Russia's Ballistic Missile Development Activities

As is commonly known, Russia's conventional military capabilities are in disarray.12 Units are undermanned; most military equipment stocks are in poor condition; acquisition of new equipment has been drastically reduced from past levels; and troop morale (due to lack of pay, shortage of food, shortage of housing, loss of public esteem, and poor discipline) is very low. The weakening of conventional defensive capabilities has caused Russia to become more reliant on its strategic nuclear forces as its primary means of defense. As a result, the nuclear threshold has been lowered as Russia has adopted a launch-on-warning posture and, in November 1993, dropped the pledge of no-first-use of nuclear weapons from its military doctrine.

Although overall Russian defense research, development, and acquisition funding has been severely slashed, a few high priority programs are still being resourced, including precision weapons, submarines, advanced aircraft, and various cruise and ballistic missiles. Of interest (for purpose of this study) is Russia's ongoing military development of ballistic missiles. It is clear from Russian public statements regarding missile R&D efforts that Russia's defense policymakers have assumed that the United States will deploy missile defenses in the future. Consequently, they are taking action to ensure that Russia's future missile systems will be able to penetrate the U.S. defense systems.

Current U.S. missile defense programs are designed to field first-generation defensives capable of hitting “well-behaved” offensive missiles (i.e., standard, non-maneuvering ballistic trajectories with limited or no penetration aids). While most of the world's non-Western inventory of current missile systems fit this category,13 Russia has some missiles that are believed to have added capabilities for penetrating missile defenses. For example, the SS-18 (one of Russia's most capable MIRVed systems) was observed during test firings deploying some objects in addition to its re-entry vehicles. As Russian missile tests are conducted under conditions as realistic as possible (testing almost all functions to include detonation of the fuses in the dummy warheads), it is believed that the non-RV objects sighted were designed to test a decoy deployment function. Russian sources claim that 1000 non-RV objects are deployed along with the SS-18s RVs.14

For the next generation of Russian missile systems, additional steps are being taken to enhance the penetration potential of Russia's offensive missile systems. Toward this end, there are at least three systems reportedly under development that should prove challenging to U.S. missile defense efforts.


This five-ton mobile tactical missile system is undergoing operational testing and could begin deployment as early as 1997. It has a range of 400 km, will be fired from a quad-axle amphibious combat vehicle/launcher, has a crew of four or five, and is being touted as having a CEP of less than eight meters. The warhead will have a low radar cross section (stealthy) and is reputed to be able to maneuver in flight. It has an autonomous inertial flight control system that incorporates an onboard computer. The firing data will be inserted into the guidance system while the missile is in the horizontal position, allowing the missile to be erected and fired rapidly so as to prevent enemy detection and counteraction prior to launch. It is also equipped with other countermeasures to evade enemy defenses.15 It is claimed that the system will be equipped with a conventional warhead. Essentially, this missile is designed to replace the SS-23 Spider which was destroyed in 1989 in compliance with the INF Treaty. The new missile was built to fit under the INF Treaty limits. It may be that the Russians will produce this missile in an export version with a range of 300 kms.16

SS-X-27 or Topol M.

This 45-ton, three-stage missile is also known as the new SS-25, the SS-25B Sickle, and the RS-12M2. Production of this mobile missile will for the first time, be conducted exclusively by Russian companies (the Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant at Udmurt, the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering, and the VNIIEF Design Bureau at Arzamas-16 — which is being renamed Kremlev). Production is expected to begin in 1997 (funding shortages slowed testing and caused the fielding schedule to slip from the previously announced 1996 date).17 This 10,500 km missile is being developed with a single one-ton warhead as required under Article V, START I, which prohibits MIRVed warheads on mobile ICBMs. The Russians are calling the Topol M an upgrade to the SS-25 mobile missile system. However, the missile may in fact be composed of new components which will "make it faster, more accurate and harder to detect."18 The missile has a larger first stage than the current SS-25 and may be able to maneuver while in flight.19 It also seems clear that the warhead incorporates sophisticated penetration technologies. One unidentified Strategic Missile Force officer reportedly stated that the Topol M can "sneak through any anti-missile defense, maintaining the projected trajectory and reaching the target in any circumstances."20 The Topol M and the SS-19 are expected to be Russia's only ICBM systems during the first decade of the next century. The Topol M production will be split with about half of the missiles deployed in silos and the other half in a mobile configuration.21

Project X

Project X.

Russia's NIIGrafit research institute (according to a report in the April 1995 issue of OGONEK magazine) is working on a top-secret, nuclear-armed missile that performs like a cross between a satellite system and an airplane. It is a six-meter long wedge with wings that are .5 meters long. It will travel at ballistic missile speeds (greater than 3,000 km/h) while maneuvering like a cruise missile. It can be placed into orbit from either a strategic bomber or by a ballistic missile launch carrier. It is claimed that the system will be able to evade planned U.S. missile defenses because it will be virtually undetectable in orbit, and once activated by a command from a control console, will begin a rapid descent to strike its designated target. It is claimed that it will be able to defeat U.S. missile defenses as the defending forces will not be able to calculate its trajectory fast enough to respond. In the first two tests, the Bora-1 and Bora-2 test vehicles melted. In the last two, the Bora-4 and Bora-5, according to the Russian comments, came through re-entry "as cool as cucumbers" after some new technology was added.22

The Russia press report on Project X raises the question of what is really going on with this project. During the September 1993 Moscow Air Show, Russian specialists were trying to interest potential investors in a rocket/space ambulance system named Pryzyv. The "sales pitch" included a four page handout that showed conceptualized pictures for the space vehicles involved. See Figure 2-1. It is clear that Project X and the space ambulance system are the same project.

Typically, during the immediate post-Cold War era, many Russia projects were in danger of being canceled as funding was reduced. Many project managers of that era tried to find commercial uses for their projects, then packaged the effort under the "defense conversion" rubric. Thus, the real questions become: has Project X been resuscitated as a current developmental effort, and if so, is it receiving serious funding? If Project X is still a real program, it will provide the United States with a serious missile defense challenge in the future. On the other hand, it may represent a terminally ill program that has not yet responded to its Cold War death knell.

Russia's Technology Transfer Potential

The lessons learned from Desert Storm regarding the value of high-technology weapon systems have helped soften the global market for weapon systems that are based on medium-levels of technology (e.g., tanks, artillery, various gun systems, dumb munitions, etc.).23 As a result, defense sales increasingly are awarded to those sources who are willing to sell advanced technology-based weapon systems and components. For Russia (and China), this has reduced sales volume in mainstay product lines and produced economic pressures to sell advanced armaments and manufacturing technology to offset the decline in sales volume of products based on mature technologies. As such, Russia represents a key potential source of missile and WMD weapons and technologies.

Russia's potential transfer of defense technologies comes from at least four sources, three of which will be considered here:

1) state-sanctioned export of military technology and equipment,

2) questionable or unofficial defense exports arranged through factory managers, government officials, or military officers acting on a personal basis, and

3) smuggled exports (often involving organized crime groups). In addition, the migration of Russian scientists and engineers (as summarized in Chapter 1) also provides an avenue for military technology transfers.

Official Exports.

Russian defense exports plummeted at the end of the Cold War to a level of $2-3 billion a year, a figure that is only about 10-15 percent of the dollar volume generated during the peak-sale-levels experienced in the mid-1980s. At the same time, Russian military procurement also fell precipitously, which left many Russian defense firms totally dependent on export earnings to stay in business. For example, it is claimed that 100 percent of all work done at the MiG design bureau and its production factory since 1993 has been in support of foreign sales.24 Indicatively, in 1995, only 35 MiG-29 aircraft were built, all for foreign customers.25 In a country where 74 major cities have 80 percent of the workforce dependent on the defense sector (with little alternative work available),26 the problem is a serious economic and political issue.

The grim reality of Russia's economy is reflected in its policy toward arms sales. As Russia's Deputy Prime Minister remarked in 1993, Russia is "willing to sell anything that our customers want, except nuclear weapons."27 This offer includes complete systems or individual components — whatever the customer desires.28 In many cases, this means Russia is willing to sell military systems that are currently in use by, or have not yet been issued to, its own forces.29 For example, the Zhuk (Beetle) radar which is designed for deployment on the MiG-29 is being offered for sale even though it is not yet in service with the Russian Air Force.30 Similarly, Russia is offering to sell the UAE the advanced Su-35 with the state-of-the-art AA-12 missile (Russian designation R-77).31 In addition, Russian firms are known to have offered to provide technicians and technologies to clients wishing to develop countermeasures to missile defenses as well as to acquire technologies such as a long-wave, counter-stealth radar system and cryptological equipment.32 This policy seems to be yielding some results. In 1995, Russia signed arms export agreements worth $9.1 billion.33 In short, Russia's defense export policy is aimed at the survival of its defense industries. As such, there seems to be very little that Russia is not willing to export on an official basis except weapons of mass destruction.

Questionable Exports Involving State/Industrial Personnel. One legacy of communism is a prevailing con-tempt toward private property rights. Under the communist system, people often claimed, "All property belongs to the state, but as we [the people] are the state, I'll take my share now!" This general attitude was well expressed in a Soviet-era cartoon that showed workers streaming out of a food depot at the end of the work day, all but one with arms full of plundered supplies. The one man with empty arms was being eyed with suspicion by two militia guards. The honest man's companion leaned over and whispered: "Quick! Take something for appearance sake, they have their eyes on you already!"

Even with the coming of capitalism, this same basic attitude is still in evidence. Theft, graft, and corruption are deeply embedded in the Russian outlook toward property rights and economic activity. Moreover, corruption among officials and personnel with access to military equipment and technology is also influencing Russia's arms transfer profile.

There have been a significant number of reports of unauthorized armament transfers by officials charged with safeguarding Russia's military arsenal. For example, in October 1995, former General of Chemical Troops Kuntsevich was charged by the Russian Federal Security Service with delivering 800 kilograms of chemicals to Middle Eastern buyers in 1993 and attempting to smuggle an additional 4.5 tons in 1994.34 Yet, members of the Russian Security Service itself are apparently involved in similar types of activity. A news article (claiming to be based on a secret German government document) identified two nuclear dealers who were arrested in Moscow in August 1994 as being members of Russia's Federal Security Service.35

More explicitly, a former State Duma committee Vice-Chairman, Vitaly Savitskiy, testified that the Russian Federal Security Service facilitated Aum Shinrikyo's (the Japanese cult that conducted the March 1995 chemical attack on the Tokyo subway) access to Russian facilities where nuclear and toxic substances were stored. He claims that they were allowed to take nuclear materials.36 As has been the case with a significant number of people in Russia who have publicly identified illegal activities, Vitaly Savitskiy subsequently died under mysterious circumstances.37

In an attempt to control corruption in arms transfers, in 1993 Russia created a centralized organization, Rosvoonruzhenive, to manage its foreign military sales efforts. Apparently, this move has been less than successful. One of the prominent questions about Russia's arms sales under Rosvoonruzhenive's direction has been "where is all of the money going?"38 It is clear from other research done on this issue that much of Rosvoonruzhenive's profits from international arms sales are ending up in the pockets and foreign bank accounts of ranking Russian officials and high-level military officers.39 In an attempt to improve the situation, Russia has again taken steps to decentralize some of its arms sales — the first step occurring in 1994, then expanded in late 1995, to allow specified industrial concerns to market their products (under nominal state control) directly to potential customers.40

In a similar set of circumstances, "the Voyentekh State Armament and Military Equipment Sales Company was established in the summer of 1992 at the behest of Defense Minister Grachev. The idea was for Voyentekh to export excess equipment and armaments from the inventory of the Ministry of Defense and use the money to build housing for servicemen."41

Essentially, this was to be a surplus sales organization, and the military was free to determine which items were to be declared surplus. However, some of the items sold apparently were not truly excess equipment, and the funds received were manipulated so that a significant amount of the proceeds did more to enrich members of the military's leadership than it helped to solve Russia's military housing shortage.42 This activity reportedly was not limited to foreign sales. There are allegations that Russian military stocks were also used to arm Chechen rebel forces — with the cooperation of ranking Russian military officers.43 (It has been reported that some of the actions taken by military representatives to transfer arms to Chechen forces may have been aimed at protecting Russian aircraft access to Groznyy airport, a suspected international drug-traffic transit point.)44

Unfortunately, the examples cited are representative of the arms and technology transfer climate in Russia. Numerous factory managers, high-level officials, military officers, and security personnel are involved in unauthorized or questionable sale and transfer of key technologies and military armaments. It seems doubtful that the recent actions taken to again decentralize arms sale activities will make the situation better. It may, in fact, further exacerbate the flow of sensitive technologies out of Russia by increasing the number of people involved in such arms sales.

Smuggled Exports.

It is impossible to separate official corruption and organized crime activities in Russia — they are intertwined. Some of this intermingling is attributable to the way that organized criminal activity developed under the Soviet system. Although organized crime groups have existed for all 74 years of Soviet history,45 the current problem seems to be attributable to several factors, including:

1) the networks and organizations that certain criminal elements developed while locked away in Stalin's labor camps were transplanted into the civil society when the members were released upon Stalin's death (the activities of these organized gangsters have become increasingly vicious as civil authority has weakened);46

2) the entrepreneurial "specialty" supply networks, that first began to emerge during the 1940s and 50s, evolved during the 1960s and 70s into organized crime families that included government officials; and

3) the termination of communist authority prior to the establishment of an effective rule-of-law system of government left a power vacuum in the hinterlands of Russia. In particular, these last two points warrant some amplification.

Historically, as the Soviet economy grew in size, it became impossible to centrally plan the production requirements for the entire nation (i.e., to make provisions for every screw, nut, bolt, and washer required to meet the central plan). To correct the deficiencies of the plan, specialty entrepreneurs, known as jobbers, emerged. They would locate and supply the items not issued by the central planners but needed to meet production goals. Essentially, the jobbers would procure the items not provided in exchange for products or raw materials controlled by the enterprise needing production feed stock or equipment. While a few small-time jobbers emerged during Stalin's reign, it was during the Khrushchev era that the use of jobbers became common.47

Obviously, if one is a jobber facing the task of procuring parts and components from across the breadth of the Soviet Union, networking with other jobbers would become a necessity. Hence, networks of jobbers soon developed that were specialized by industry/commodity. The state initially turned a blind eye toward the activities of these small capitalists as long as they did not become too greedy or try to trade in items such as nuclear materials. Those who failed to keep within acceptable boundaries were sent to the Gulag.48 Of course, at about the same time, corrupt local and regional party officials realized that they could also use the Gulag to discipline capitalistic entrepreneurs who failed to share their profits with the appropriate officials.

During the years of stagnation under Brezhnev's listless leadership, the forging of the modern crime families gathered momentum. Communist party bosses, KGB officials, and police/militia leaders who had allied with the jobber networks in the 1950s,49 in many cases became the "godfathers" of their respective "mafia" groups during the 1960s and 70s. In some cases, enterprising government officials and factory managers created their own networks to supply items not provided by the system. Gradually, the criminal activity became more ruthless as the participation of government officials, factory managers, and law enforcement organs in many of the criminal groups made it difficult to bring gang members to justice.50 The communist party was the only organ capable of ensuring that the criminal activity did not get too far out of hand. Nevertheless, the end result was that organized crime became deeply embedded into the very fabric of Soviet society and government organs.

To better understand how criminal gangs operated in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), two reports provide some insights. In the first account, the government investigated the gold mining artels in 1987-88. The supply records showed that the artels had only received from the state 14 percent of the equipment authorized by the central planning agencies. Yet, over 1,000 bulldozers and roughly half of the machinery and equipment acquired by the artels over the past five years had not been issued by state agencies. The Soviet report noted that the artels had solved their equipment shortage problem "by a well-tried method, by organizing a clandestine network of suppliers." At the same time hundreds of kilograms of gold and precious metals had disappeared; about 300 kilograms of gold were recovered from officials and suppliers who were arrested for bribery, theft, and abuse of their official positions.51

In the second account, a prominent Russian economist told a Western visitor that "organized crime groups starve entire urban settlements by stealing supplies from distribution centers — retributions for unsuccessful efforts to extort money."52 Obviously, for the settlement to starve, resupply operations would have to be executed slowly which begs the question of official collusion.

As the Soviet Union began to break up, criminal activity exploded. In 1991, Russian law enforcement agencies identified 780 organized gangs;53 but according to a 1993 report attributed to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the estimate had risen to 5,700 organized crime groups in Russia, of which 200 were classified as large sophisticated organizations. Over 100 of those groups operated on both a national and an international scale.54 The international operations included connections with the Italian Mafia and the Chinese Triads,55 as well as the establishment of overseas divisions of Russian criminal gangs that are now operating in at least 50 countries.56 Jim Woolsey, then Director of Central Intelligence, noted that Russian organized crime groups are "involved in drug trafficking, sale of weapons, antiques, icons, raw materials, stolen vehicles, and even some radioactive materials, and they [were making] concerted efforts to gain influence — and as much control as they [could] — over Russia's growing banking and private sectors."57 Russia's organized crime factions are now in the process of consolidating their operations (with about 5000 organized crime groups operating in 1996).58 They are also developing a global distribution network which will allow them to more easily smuggle materials, launder money, and gain access to potential customers and clients outside of Russia's borders.

The sharp increase in the number of Russian crime groups between 1991 and 1996 stems from at least two factors. First, the collapse of the communist system meant that those who manned the party's regional and local hierarchy and were responsible for enforcing the party's edicts had their jobs abolished rather suddenly. Many transitioned into the new power structures; about 61 percent of the new business leaders and 75 percent of the new political elite came out of the hierarchy of the old communist party structure.59 However, other former communist party employees/leaders gravitated toward criminal groups or formed their own gangs.60 Extortion, prostitution rings, protection rackets, murder for hire, money laundering, smuggling, and the infiltration of legitimate business activities all characterize the orientation of the organized criminal groups in Russia today.61

Second, the demise of the communist party also meant that the ability of the central government to enforce its will was greatly weakened. President Yeltsin has issued thousands of edicts, but who now enforces them? Under the communist system, when the Politburo issued an edict, the regional and local party organs took action to ensure that the edict was implemented and obeyed. Under the current government structure, there is still no effective independent court system or organization that enforces federal law throughout the land. Outside of Moscow, local political and military leaders generally do as they please.62 Thus, even if the federal government wished to control arms exports, it is questionable that it could enforce its will effectively in the provinces and factories that are scattered across the 11 time zones of Russia.

Consequently, the power of criminal gang activity in Russia has become enormous. As of 1993, it was reported that organized crime controlled over 2,000 banks, some 40,000 state and private enterprises, and about one-third of the turnover in goods and services. Many of the firms that have been privatized were taken over by criminal groups.63 By 1995, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that "criminal structures in the state now control over 50 percent of economic entities."64 It is estimated that 80 percent of Russia's businesses pay 20 to 30 percent of their profits as protection money to organized crime groups.65 In addition, ruthlessness in the pursuit of financial gain is not limited to the recognized criminal elements. Press reports of officials using the police and the judiciary to punish opponents and intimidate would be "whistle blowers" are still found. As for the Kremlin's leadership, noted journalist Alexander Minkin, "Everyone understands that these people are deathly dangerous."66 These people are engaged in criminal activity and apparently are not adverse to having their opposition assassinated.67

Official collusion in criminal activity occurs routinely. For example, in the fall of 1995, the Interior Minister announced that some 85 of the candidates running for election to the Duma were criminals, that 1600 linkages between criminals and high government officials were under investigation, and that an estimated 30-50 percent of criminal profits were used to bribe state officials.68 Therefore, it is not surprising that a recent estimate claimed that at least 30 percent of Russia's exports bypass the customs system.69 Other knowledgeable experts believe that figure is far too low — that the level of criminal activity in Russia, coupled with the weakness of border controls in the FSU, make it easy to smuggle equipment out of Russia. As there are few border controls between Russia and the other FSU states, the actual controls on the flow of illegal materials are still located at the exterior borders of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, these borders are very porous (especially along the southern borders of Central Asia); customs agents and border guards are poorly trained and bribable. They also may be unable to identify restricted technologies and materials if they are found.70

In short, Russia has many advanced technologies, an economy that is in a state of severe economic depression, a population that has seen its savings and retirement funds evaporate due to high inflation rates, a feeble and corrupt central government, and a society in which the social mores that would normally help limit criminal activity have become weak and distorted. Organized criminal activity is now embedded in all aspects of Russian life. As a result of this overall situation, it should be assumed that if a technology, weapon system, or product is located inside of Russia, it can be obtained if the client makes the right connections and is willing to pay the asking price.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Missile Systems

Russian Nuke

Within this unstable political and economic environment, there is reason to be concerned about the security of the FSU's weapons and technologies with regard to WMD and missile systems. Under the Soviet Union, these systems were secured by physical guards under the watchfulness and authority of the communist party apparatus.

Essentially, the nuclear security system relied on the control that the communist party exercised over the population as opposed to an effort to develop extensive physical security measures over the nuclear systems themselves. As a result, it has been estimated by some that as much as 50 to 60 percent of the Soviet Union's nuclear surveillance system was provided through the activities of the party.71

Notwithstanding the party's oversight, there was no central inventory accounting system for WMD materials in the FSU. Even today, the Russians are not certain how much fissile material (and may not know how many nuclear weapon systems) were produced in the Soviet Union and where they are located.72 Thus, when Russian spokesmen state that "there are no missing nuclear weapons or fissile materials," the question needs to be asked, "Missing from what number or amount?"


As is commonly known, the nature of the communist system encouraged the submission of falsified reports. Enterprise managers were expected to meet the production goals set by GOSPLAN, even if the distribution system failed to provide the necessary raw materials. As a result, it became routine for factory managers to horde raw materials or to stash unreported production as a hedge against the possibility of being unable to meet production-target quotas due to some future unforeseen event.

As a result of this national practice, there remains the probability that clandestine stocks of WMD weapon materials or components may still be hidden away near the various weapon fabrication facilities.73 The same situation apparently exists for missile materials.74 Although the Soviet Union is gone, some of the same practices may be continuing in many production facilities as factory managers try to shield themselves from Russia's confiscatory tax code.75 Consequently, the official number of systems produced, as recorded on local inventory sheets, may not represent the actual production figures.

Nuclear Proliferation Potential.

The existence of Russia's massive nuclear arsenal is a well-established fact. The inherent nuclear infrastructure that evolved with Russia's nuclear program now poses a threat to the international nonproliferation effort. The FSU currently has weapons-usable fissile materials stored in 80-100 buildings located at 40 sites — most of which are located in Russia. Although efforts are ongoing to improve the physical security of these facilities, Russia's nuclear weapons materials are still very vulnerable to pilferage.

The security of Russia's nuclear materials is of key concern. Today, there are few remaining secrets regarding basic nuclear weapon design and functioning. Declassified U.S. nuclear information, the knowledge that has been accumulated by the nuclear physics departments in the academic community, and the accumulation of information that has been made public over the course of the 51-year history of nuclear weapons has largely dispelled the mystery of the bomb. For example, the U.S. B-28 thermonuclear bomb drawing (Figure 2-3) was downloaded from the Internet (which also contains similar drawings of other nuclear weapons). The original Internet download also contained a scale for determining the relative size of the B-28's components. Clearly, if nuclear weapon design information is available, the only real obstacle remaining to nuclear weapon proliferation is the difficulty inherent in obtaining weapons-grade nuclear materials. For a country or faction desiring a nuclear capability, Russia is a real nuclear treasure-trove.

It is estimated that $12-20 billion worth of materials are being smuggled out of Russia each year.76 What amount of this trade consists of nuclear materials is uncertain. To date, most reported interceptions of smuggled fissile materials have come from Europe, with the highest number of apprehensions occurring in Germany. Most of these interceptions have involved amateurs trying to sell small amounts of nuclear materials. Apparently, some of the radioactive materials that have been offered were originally obtained by stripping the minute amounts of fissile material from Eastern bloc smoke detectors. Some individuals accumulated enough of this material to be able to attempt to run a swindle by claiming the material was a sample from a larger shipment.77

There are, however, certain aspects of this pattern that are worrisome. First, Germany has one of the most efficient law enforcement establishments in the world; thus, it is likely that the Germans would be more successful in apprehending nuclear smugglers than would be countries with less efficient law enforcement agencies and population control systems.78 Second, the historic smuggling and trade routes tend to run North-South. (It was difficult to traffic East-West during the Cold War.) As a result, professional smuggling operations are more likely to use the established conduits which moves materials through the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and China, with some East-West movement through the Baltics.79 Considering the relative quality of the various police forces in the region, law enforcement agencies would pose less of a threat to shipments made using the North-South corridors than would be the case for East-West movements. Third, although U.S. officials claim that the known incidences of nuclear smuggling involve amateurs engaged in opportunistic theft and sale, and that there are no known organized criminal activities involving nuclear materials themselves,80 there are indicators that those claims may be based on a lack of firm evidence rather than a lack of suspected activity.

For example, a German publication, citing a classified Russian document, reported that large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium apparently have disappeared from Arsamas-16 (now called Kremlev) and the Avangard plant.81 When considered along with other indicators, there is reason to suspect that organized criminal elements may be pilfering nuclear materials in Russia. For instance, at Chelyabinsk-65, a facility where "bulk plutonium is stored in an old warehouse with glass windows and a padlock on the door,"82 the deputy director was found dead of a crushed skull. The circumstances of his death carried the earmarks of a link to "mafia involvement [with] ... illegal nuclear trade activities" (although no definitive proof was forthcoming).83 More curious is the fact that there are informed Russians who accept the existence of a "nuclear mafia" specializing in the theft of nuclear technologies and materials (e.g., a lengthy article on Russian mafia activity by a Russian academic expert referred to the nuclear mafia as an established fact).84 As a further indicator of organized nuclear smuggling, the Russian Federal Security Service reportedly arrested nine members of a gang in Novosibirsk on December 28, 1995. They were trying to sell 10 kilos of U235 (believed to have originated in Kazakhstan) to a middleman believed to be involved in transporting nuclear materials to South Korea.85

Although the examples cited do not provide the type of evidence needed to make a case that could be presented in a court of law, when the information is considered in light of the rampant corruption that pervades Russia, the strength of Russia's organized criminal gangs (as outlined in the preceding section) and the dozens of reports that have the same tone as those cited above, it is difficult to believe that these crime groups would long overlook the potential for nuclear smuggling as a lucrative source of income.86

Unfortunately, there are not very many barriers standing in the way of those tempted to pilfer nuclear materials. As the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) documented, nuclear facilities do not have complete inventories of their nuclear materials. For example, the nuclear fuel elements shown in Figure 2-4 are part of an inventory of 70,000 to 80,000 disks located at the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering. The officials were not sure of the size of their stockpile and were in the process of taking inventory.87 The controls and security system in place to protect this material were not judged by the GAO to be sufficient to prevent pilferage. Although the particular material in the figure is low-enriched uranium (LEU), it still represents a potential threat to nuclear proliferation. (Some of the disks included in the inventory are composed of weapons grade material.)

nuclear disks

Low-enriched uranium (LEU) contains less than 20 percent of U235, with much of the material used in nuclear power plants enriched to only 3-5 percent. However, the enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons is not a linear progression. If a country can use 20 percent LEU as a feed stock in its enrichment process, it achieves a starting point in which 70 percent of the effort required to develop weapons-grade uranium has already occurred (3 percent enrichment represents about 50 percent of the effort).88 As a result, a country could develop an inefficient enrichment facility and still may be able to develop sufficiently enriched uranium for a nuclear device or be able to enrich the material in a shorter time frame than might otherwise be expected. Of greater concern (than are the LEU nuclear fuel elements) are the nuclear fuel stocks for the Russian Navy. The naval stocks are enriched to higher levels than are the fuel stocks destined for power plant use. For example, several of the later-generation nuclear submarines, such as the Typhoon, Oscar, Sierra, and Mike classes, use nuclear fuel enriched to 45 percent U235. While the desirable degree of enrichment for weapons-grade material is 93.5 percent U235, critical mass can be achieved by using 75 kgs of 40 percent enriched uranium and a beryllium reflector.89 However, most of the nuclear-powered ice breakers and the Alfa class of submarine use fuel elements enriched to 90 percent. These elements could be used to produce a nuclear device using less than 20 kg of uranium (with reflector) — 54 kgs without a reflector.90

Enriched Uranium

Much of the naval nuclear stocks are poorly secured. In a revealing article entitled "Potatoes Were Guarded Better,"91 the theft of 4.5 kgs of nuclear material from the Sevmorput shipyard (near Murmansk) is described. The thief was an off-duty military officer who entered the storage facility through an unguarded gate, pried open the padlock on the door of the storage building, and took parts of three fresh fuel assemblies. He was caught six months later after asking a fellow officer for help finding a buyer. While the theft of the fuel assemblies was discovered by two roving guards about 12 hours after the break-in occurred, it is believed that the intrusion could have been concealed for months if the thief had taken some precautions to hide the evidence of his presence.

Lethality Coverage

Of even greater concern is the security of Russia's 150-200 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. While plutonium is more difficult to smuggle due to its highly radioactive and toxic nature, it requires only about 4.5 kgs of this fissile material (the size of a baseball) to make a well designed nuclear weapon. Thus, plutonium is an ideal substance for use in a missile warhead (less weight, thus facilitating longer ranges). Considering the health dangers inherent in handling plutonium, it is logical to assume that organized criminals specializing in nuclear materials would pose the greatest threat to the plutonium stocks (i.e., it would be difficult and dangerous for amateurs to handle).

Chemical Proliferation Potential. Although chemical weapons are classified as a weapon of mass destruction, they are not nearly as destructive as a nuclear or biological weapon. Yet, against an unprotected population, they can create havoc. Russia, with about 40,000 tons of toxic chemical agents in its arsenal,92 (about 32,000 tons are nerve agents) has the technology and chemicals that could be useful to a developing state that is trying to field a chemical weapons capability. They also would be useful to a terrorist organization planning to conduct a strike similar to the gas attack that occurred in the Tokyo subway in 1995 (noted earlier).

It should be noted that chemical weapons (CW) and biological weapons (BW) are best dispersed by systems that are able to spread the materials over a wide area (e.g., using spray tanks such as a crop-dusting airplane employs). A unitary warhead on an ICBM is not a very efficient vehicle for dispersing chemical or biological agents to a broad-area target. The concentration could be limited to the point of impact and its downwind pathway. Thus, it could be very expensive to use a ballistic missile with a unitary warhead to deliver this agent considering the limited amount of damage that would likely be inflicted (although it could spread panic and terror). In general, a cruise missile, equipped with spray tanks, would be a better platform for dispersing CW and BW agents because it could fly along a predetermined course releasing agent along a pathway upwind of the target. See Figure 2-6 for comparison of CW, BW, and nuclear weapons effects.

This situation could change early in the next century. It should be noted that "by the 1960s the United States had developed submunitions for ballistic missiles that would spread chemical and biological agents more efficiently than would release at a single point."93 It is the development of submunition technology that makes ballistic missile CW and BW warheads a greater threat since a single warhead could carry many bomblets which would scatter over a wide area. Each bomblet would originate a downwind pathway in which casualties would occur. It should be assumed that Russia has also developed CW and BW bomblet technology. (Russia has conventional submunition technology; it would be surprising if it had not developed submunitions for CW and BW agents.)

As discussed previously, some Russian chemical-weapon technologies and materials clearly have been transferred abroad — as illustrated by two incidents already cited in this report. In one case, Lt. General Anatoliy Kuntsevich (former General of Chemical Troops) sold chemical warfare secrets and chemical weapon components to Syria;94 in the other, the Russian Federal Security Service facilitated a Japanese terrorist organization to gain access to Russian nuclear and chemical materials. Apparently, these two cases are not isolated incidents. During November 1995, another Russian officer was questioned about rumors of smuggling in toxic substances from the military. His response was revealing. He claimed that "the relevant bodies are aware of several cases of theft from industrial enterprises of chemicals which can be used in the manufacture of toxic substances."95 Thus, it appears that the Russian Federal Security Service allowed a terrorist organization access to toxic materials, that the former General of Chemical Troops sold toxic chemicals and chemical weapon technologies belonging to the Russian military, and that chemical weapon precursor materials are missing from the known stocks of some Russian chemical enterprises.

Biological Weapons Proliferation Potential. Biological-warfare agents are easier to produce than are nuclear materials or chemical-weapon agents,96 yet, they are capable of inflicting casualty rates comparable to that of a nuclear weapon. Since it does not require much infrastructure or a very large staff to develop BW agents, BW has often been called the poor-man's nuclear bomb.

The Soviet Union has maintained an offensive BW program despite its pledge to terminate its activity in this field. Following the demise of the Soviet empire, President Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of an offensive BW program and issued a decree in April 1995 terminating the program.97 However, evidence suggests that the program continued to operate long after its announced termination, and there still remains some ambiguity regarding the status of Russia's offensive BW capability.98 For example, although no reported transfers of BW agents or technology are known, reportedly, one Russian offensive BW facility has a sales catalogue of nutrient media that are used for the growth of bacteria for BW agents.99 In addition, it seems reasonable to assume that the same problems that plague Russia's nuclear and CW programs may also exist in its BW program. The BW program employed thousands of Russia's top scientists.100 According to a reported Defense Intelligence Agency source, the flow of BW expertise from Russia to Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya is of particular interest.101

Missile Proliferation Potential. It is clear from the positions expressed and comments made in Russian publications that there are many who believe that Russia should sell missile technology as a way of raising funds to support Russia's defense industries.102 In addition, there are indicators that missile technology can be obtained from Russia through unofficial channels. As a primary focal point of this study is missile proliferation, it is of particular interest to examine some of the known and suspected transfers of Russian missile technology.

Perhaps the most publicized example has been the proposed Russian transfer of seven cryogenic rockets and its production technology to India. This deal caused much consternation in U.S. policymaking circles. As a result, the United States adamantly opposed this transfer, citing it as a violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines. Although U.S. pressure eventually caused Russia officially to cancel the technology transfer portion of the deal, it still plans to provide India with seven cryogenic boosters. According to Indian scientists, however, the drawings and technical specifications for the cryogenic technology package had already been transferred to India during the preceding year.103 More recently, the Russian newspaper Pravda claimed it had two classified documents in which Russian representatives offered to sell India 45 of the new Topol-M ICBMs (with related communications, spare parts, and training) within the next 10 years at a price of $3 billion.104 Although a Russian spokesman denied the report, one publication quoted a secret Russian military report as stating that "India would no doubt become a nuclear power with its own strategic missiles," and so Russia could "extremely gain from this cooperation."105 If this report is true, it would indicate a willingness on the part of official Russian military representatives to transfer modern ICBMs to other states.

In the Middle East, a shipment of gyroscopes and accelerometers bound for Iraq was discovered in Jordan in December 1995. The missile components apparently were designed for use on long-range missiles systems, being too sophisticated for use on a SCUD missile or one of its direct derivatives.106 In this case, the illegal transfer was believed to have been a smuggling operation that was conducted outside of the Russian government's control.107 However, the Russian Ambassador to Iran was cited as announcing that the two countries had signed an agreement under which Russia will help Iran to launch its first experimental space satellite within three years. For this effort, Moscow will transfer technology to Iran in three stages.108 Obviously, this commercial venture will also help the Iranians to develop their missile expertise at a faster pace than might otherwise be expected.

In East Asia, an announcement was made on October 17, 1996, that South Korea had concluded an agreement with Russia for the transfer of 15 ultramodern military technologies. Included in this agreement were ICBM guidance device technology, photographic technology for military intelligence satellites, anti-aircraft radar systems, and technology on the design and manufacture of fighter aircraft, to include the MiG-29. The South Koreans claimed that the ICBM guidance device technology would be used for "automatic navigation devices for ships and vessels."109

Turning to China, there are several reports of missile technologies being transferred to China from Russia. According to an article citing as its source two classified Pentagon intelligence reports, China is gaining much missile technology from Russia, with most of the transfers taking place outside of official channels.110 Of particular interest to China has been the technology associated with Russia's SS-18 heavy-lift ICBM with MIRVed warhead.111 This is the same system discussed earlier that was observed during testing releasing non-RV objects believed to have been penetration-aid decoys. Based on the number of technology transfer reports involving the SS-18, it seems most likely that China either already has, or will soon have, the missile technology associated with this ICBM.

As for China's efforts to develop a mobile ICBM, there is an unconfirmed report of an SS-25 mobile ICBM being exported to China (equipped with a conventional warhead).112 If true, China now has a working model that can be used as it develops the DF-31 and DF-41 mobile missile systems (to be discussed in the next chapter). In addition, it should be kept in mind that Chinese scientists are in frequent contact with Russian institutes that deal with weapons technology. As a result, Russia's technological expertise is flowing to China via human channels that are uncontrolled by the Russian Government.113

Security of Russia's Strategic Missile Force

Mobile Launcher

One gnawing question that periodically arises is "How secure is Russia's offensive nuclear forces?" Do elements in Russia have the capability to launch a limited nuclear attack on the United States without permission of the central command authority, or does Russia's system of safeguards make that event unlikely?

Of course, these questions cannot be answered with complete certainty as there is a great deal of secrecy that surrounds nuclear command and control systems. Nevertheless, a review of the evidence seems to indicate that the United States has reason for concern regarding Russia's system of controls over its strategic missiles. The Russian nuclear command and control system reflects a still evident fear that the United States will launch a surprise nuclear strike against Russia, one that decapitates its national command authority and preemptively destroys the country's retaliatory forces. This fear was acted out in January 1995 when a Norwegian sounding rocket was detected by Russian early warning systems. This rocket was larger than ones normally fired and followed a flight pattern that made the Russians falsely identify the missile as a U.S. SLBM that seemed headed for a high-polar detonation.114 (Norway's advanced notice of the pending launch got lost in Russia's bureaucracy.)

With the warning of the missile's flight, Kazbek, the coded Russian nuclear command and control system was raised to a higher alert status and the Chegets were activated, sounding an alarm in all three cases. The Chegets are three black Samsonite suitcases that allow the President, the Minister of Defense, and the Chief of the General Staff to communicate with the command center of the Russian General Staff and send the coded signals that authorize the command center to launch a nuclear strike.115

Apparently, the Russians have long suspected that if the United States ever launched a preemptive attack against Russia, it would start with a high nuclear air-burst over the polar region with the intent of disrupting Russia's response capabilities as electro-magnetic-pulse (EMP) effects would disrupt Russia's command, control, and communication systems. Under this scenario, the main nuclear attack would follow shortly. Consequently, the Russians were extremely worried. There are some indications that Yeltsin was seriously considering launching Russia's strategic nuclear strike forces.116 The lesson of this incident is that while the possibility of an inadvertent nuclear war with Russia is remote, it is not an impossibility.

The Russian nuclear command system was set up to allow its forces to execute a retaliatory strike even if the national command authority were to be destroyed by a surprise preemptive strike. The resulting system appears to have put the missile launch codes in the hands of many. In a revealing October 1991 interview, Major General Geli Batenin, a Russian Strategic Missile Force (SMF) officer and advisor on nuclear weapons to the Russian government (also a former commander of an SS-18 Brigade and former member of the Soviet General Staff), warned that the SS-25 mobile missile was vulnerable to unauthorized use as (like the submarine force) its warheads were not safeguarded by permissive action link (PAL) devices and could be launched by the crews since the launch codes were kept on the launcher.117 He also described a command and control system in which the strategic missile launch codes are kept at the nuclear command centers, claiming that there are 15 officers who have the ability to initiate nuclear missile launches.118 While the submarine missile forces were only mentioned briefly by General Batenin, it is possible that the launch codes for the submarine-launched ballistic missile forces may also be held by officers on deployed vessels.

In a recent development, a top secret CIA report entitled Prospects for Unsanctioned Use of Russian Nuclear Weapons, September 1996, was leaked to Bill Gertz of The Washington Times. The CIA report added some new details to General Batenin's insights into the Russian nuclear command and control system. The nuclear "football" that the Russians call the "cheget," does not send a launch code, but simply signals that a launch is authorized. The cheget was described as being largely symbolic, similar to the orb and scepter of the czars.119 The real command and control resides with the Russian General Staff; however, the command posts of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) are also technically capable of launching the missiles under their command.120 This would seem to coincide with General Batenin's October 1991 claim that there were 15 officers who could launch missiles at any one time.

Of particular concern, the CIA report claimed that the disarray in the Russian armed forces was spreading to the elite nuclear submariners, the nuclear warhead handlers, and to the SMF, with the greatest weaknesses being the security of the tactical nuclear weapons. Indicative of the problem is the fact that the nuclear submariners and SMF troops have been threatening to go on strike if pay and living conditions are not improved.121 Russian officials were cited as being particularly worried about the nuclear units in Russia's Far East, where the troops are living in deplorable conditions while holding strategic nuclear weapons in a location where they might easily fall into the wrong hands.122 Although the CIA report concluded that the odds of an unauthorized launch were low under normal conditions, it did spell out a number of situations that could raise the odds, to include a severe political crisis, or a military conspiracy to commit nuclear blackmail.123 It should be noted that Russian nuclear command and control expert, Bruce Blair (who has read the report), claimed that the CIA's conclusions seemed to unduly play down the threat of rogue action up and down the chain of command.124

Of more than academic interest is the question of what would happen if a rogue element was successful in launching a missile. This issue has been a concern of the policy making community for several years and provided the impetus that moved the administration to conclude a nuclear detargeting agreement with Russia. However, even though both U.S. and Russian missile systems have been detargeted (unverified), according to Bruce Blair of the Brookings Institution, Russian nuclear missiles can be retargeted in about 10 seconds. More unsettling is his claim that if an unauthorized launch by a rogue unit should occur without reprogramming the missile with new targeting information, the missile system will use the default aim point of its last Cold War target.125 Thus, an unauthorized launch might still strike the same U.S. target as it was programmed to hit before being detargeted.

In short, the Russian nuclear control system is weakening, and the ability to launch the strategic rocket forces and the submarine forces are in the hands of many. Considering the pressures that are racking Russia, the possibility of an unauthorized launch must be taken seriously.


Assuming the trends outlined in the foregoing continue along current paths, the U.S.-Russian relationship will be much more varied in the future than it was in the past. On economic issues, it is likely Russia will try to play the role of a friend. Russia well understands that the United States and the developed countries hold the key to its future economic health. In the security arena, Russia should be expected to vary its role to suit its own national interests. At times, Russia will act as a foe of the United States. This role is most likely to be seen as Russia pursues its national interests in the Middle East and Southern Asia. To the extent possible, Russia seems likely to attempt to use surrogate powers to protect its interests in these regions. In East Asia, Russia's role has the potential for being more flexible as it seeks to balance its vulnerabilities in that region. In all cases, the instability that currently characterizes Russia's internal situation poses the potential for it to be an accidental threat to the United States.

In the realm of missiles and missile defenses, Russia will remain a major threat to the United States: first, as a source of proliferation from which a threat to the United States could develop; second, as a holder of powerful strategic nuclear systems under the questionable control of its weak central government. As a complicating factor, the rampant crime and corruption that is exerting a powerful influence on Russian actions and activities is likely to result in a continued outpouring of sophisticated weapon systems, missiles and technologies, and weapons of mass destruction enablers that will change the nature of the international military calculus. Although the United States must continue to work with Russia in an attempt to stabilize Russia's security situation, it must also prepare for the potential failure of that effort. The problems that Russia faces are too serious to be easily and quickly resolved.


1 Aleksey Arbatov, "Aleksey Arbatov Ponders Security Needs in Late 1990's," FBIS Report: Central Eurasia, FBIS-USR-94-129, JPRS, November 29, 1994.

2 For a comprehensive assessment of Russia's defense industrial problems see study: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Defense Conversion and Arms Transfers: The Legacy of the Soviet-Era Arms Industry — Russia, Ukraine, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland (Washington, DC, and Cambridge, MA, July 1993).

3 Herbert J. Ellison and Bruce A. Acker, "The New Russia and Asia: 1991-1995," The National Bureau of Asian Research, June 1996, pp. 8-9. Note, this report is recommended reading as it provides an in-depth assessment of Russia's Asian interests.

4 For example, see S. Enders Wimbush, "When China Absorbs the Russian Far East," The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 1996, p. A20.

5 The number 1000 was reported by Mikhail Urusov, Moscow News, October 7-13, 1994, p.8; during a 1996 background conversation between a U.S. visitor and a Russian official, the Russian noted that he could not keep track of what technology information was being passed to the Chinese — on any given day 5000 Russian technicians are in China, it is impossible to know what they are all doing.

6 Theresa Hitchens, "Industry, Defense Needs Forge Russia-China Arms Link," Defense News, February 5-11, 1996, p. 24.

7 Ibid., and Bill Gertz, "China's Arsenal Gets A Russian Boost," Washington Times, May 20, 1996, p. A1.

8 Ellison and Acker, op. cit., pp. 8-9, 22-25.

9 Arbatov, op. cit. Although this issue has been widely discussed in press reports, the Arbatov paper provides a fairly detailed discussion of the issue.

10 While there are innumerable reports on the issue, for some sample reading of ongoing comments and discussions see Arbatov, op. cit.; Marshall Ingwerson, "The Bear's Hunt for Arms Sales," The Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 1996; Sergey Tretyakov, "Russian Ambassador Discusses Nuclear Cooperation," FBIS-NES-95-221, November 16, 1995, pp. 41-42; Stephen Blank, "Russian Nuclear Exports to Tehran," Jane's Intelligence Review, October 1995, p. 452; comments ascribed to Victor Titov (a senior advisor to General Aleksandr Lebed), "Transformation Watch: Lebed is not 'A Man to do Business With'," Decision Brief: The Center for Security Policy, June 18, 1996; Aleksandr Lyasko, "Theses Reportedly Underlie New Military Doctrine," FBIS-TAC-95-006, FBIS Report: Arms Control & Proliferation Issues, December 8, 1995; and "Russia Denies Supplying Missiles to India," FBIS-NES-95-242, December 18, 1995.

11 Based on personal conversations with several Russian officials and Ellison and Acker, op. cit., pp. 15-16, 21. Of similar note, Israeli officials who accompanied Prime Minister Rabin to Russia claimed that they were shocked by the "intense anti-American sentiment" they witnessed in Moscow, Intelligence Digest, September 22, 1995, p. 1.

12 For a concise summary of Russia's military readiness posture and problems, see "The Russian Armed Forces: Super Power to Limited Power," Jane's Defense Weekly, February 14, 1996, p. 17.

13 The United Kingdom, with U.S. technical assistance, has developed a fairly sophisticated capability to penetrate missile defenses. See the discussion of the Chevaline program in Robert S. Norris, Andrew S. Burrows, and Richard W. Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume V: British, French, and Chinese Nuclear Weapons (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994) pp. 105-113.

14 Phone conversation with Professor Ted Postol, Defense and Arms Control Program, MIT, June 20, 1996; and Russian QI Television, "Test Range, Missile Deactivation Program," January 30, 1994, 0700 GMT. In addition, the Russian SS-25 post-boost bus has 4 large protrusions that may house decoys or other penaids. See Andrew Hull, David Markov, and Steven Zaloga, "The Topol (SS-25 Sickle) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile," The Institute for Defense Analyses, IDA D-1772, May 1995, p. 5.

15 "Russia, 12/21/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996, p. 155; and Steven Zaloga "Russia's SS-X-26: The Son of Scud," Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 102-103.

16 Sergey Novikov, "New Russian Operational-Tactical Missile in Testing at Kapustin Yar," FBIS-UMR-96-021-S, December 21, 1995; and Steven J. Zaloga, "Son of Scud: The Iskander (SS-X-26) Tactical Ballistic Missile," unpublished paper, March 1997.

17 "Russia, 11/29/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996, p. 154; "We Still Do Make Rockets," Official Kremlin International News Broadcast, January 20, 1996; and Pyotr Yudin, "Moscow's Budget Squeeze May Stall New Nuke Missile," Defense News, August 19-25, 1996, p. 1.

18 "Russian ICBM," Forecast International/DMS Intelligence Report, February 1996, pp. 3-4.

19 Ibid.

20 "Russia, 12/20/94," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1995, p. 188

21 "We Still Do Make Rockets," op. cit. Originally, the Topol M was to be the only ICBM in Russia's arsenal by 2005; see "Russia, 12/8/93," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1994, p. 193. However, recent statements indicate that Russia plans to extend the service life of the SS-19 from 10 to 25 years and keep it on active status; see "Russia, 11/29/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996, p. 154; also see forthcoming article by David R. Markov, "The Russians and Their Nukes," Air Force Magazine, February 1997, pp. 40-43.

22 "Russia, 6/30/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996, p. 154; and "Russia: Developing Advanced Weapons, FBIS: S & T Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 5, June 30, 1995, p. 7. The description of this missile makes it appear that it might be left in orbit until activated (a weapons-in-space issue). The technology used to cool the missile and make it invisible in space may include stealth and actions to limit its IR signature. It is also likely that the missile would be able to execute sharp turns and maneuvers on its way to target. The velocity of "greater than 3,000 kms/h" seems greatly understated as an orbiting space vehicle would travel much faster.

23 For a detailed discussion of the issue see Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Defense Conversion and Arms Transfers, op. cit., pp. 79-88.

24 David Markov, Presentation at Symposium on Exploring U.S. Missile Defense Requirements in 2010, hosted by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Inc., Washington, DC, June 7, 1996.

25 Nikolay Novichov and Craig Covualt, "New Russian MiGs Set for Flight Test," Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 1, 1996, p. 21.

26 Hull and Markov, op. cit., p. 2.

27 Richard Beeston, "Kremlin's Arms Salesman Return to the Offensive," The [London] Times, June 16, 1994, p. 11.

28 Muradian, op. cit.

29 "Russia: State Plan for Exports on Target," Jane's Defense Weekly, August 21, 1996, p. 25.

30 Hull and Markov, op. cit., p. 9.

31 Ibid., p. 10.

32 Ibid., p. 11.

33 Barbara Starr, "Russia Leads World In Arms Transfers Says U.S.A., Jane's Defense Weekly, August 28, 1996, p. 27. The article cited a report entitled, U.S. Congressional Research Service, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1988-1995.

34 Graham H. Turbiville, Jr., Weapons Proliferation and Organized Crime: The Russian Military and Security Service Dimension (Colorado Springs: USAF Academy, Institute for National Security Studies, 1996), p. 42.

35 "BND Identifies Terrorist Mastermind Targeting Jews," FBIS-WEU-94-202, October 19, 1994, pp. 16-17.

36 "Japan, 10/31/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996, p. 117.

37 Ibid. For additional insight into some of the mysterious accidents that have been occurring in Russia, see "Political Assassinations in the East," The Fight, Number 255, July 11, 1995.

38 Turbiville, op. cit., p. 16.

39 For an enlightening account of Russia's arms sales under Rosvoonruzhenive's supervision, see Turbiville, op. cit., pp. 16-21.

40 Yanpolsky, op. cit.

41 Turbiville, op. cit., pp. 21-22.

42 Ibid., pp. 22-24.

43 Ibid., pp. 25-26.

44 Ibid., p. 25 and footnote 56 on p. 50.

45 Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Organized Crime: The New Evil Empire (Washington: CSIS Report, 1994), p. 140.

46 "Organized Crime in Russia," Jane's Special Report No. 10, ed. Robert Hall and Peter Felstead, June 1996, p. 5 & 7.

47 The material on the development of organized crime in Russia is based primarily on a series of lectures given by Dr. Craig Nation during a graduate course on Communism, University of Southern California, 1984. The insights he gained while living in Russia were corroborated by subsequent Soviet articles that began to be published in the late 1980s.

48 Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Organized Crime, op. cit., p. 140.

49 Brian Sullivan, "International Organized Crime: A Growing National Security Threat," Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forum, Number 74, May 1996, p. 2.

50 "Battle Against Scum of Organized Crime Cited," FBIS-SOV-88-208, October 27, 1988, pp. 83-86. The article translated from TRUD provides insights into the evolution of crime groups and their relationships with government officials. It was believed by Soviet officials in 1989 that one-fifth of the crime groups had connections with officials, and all of the groups involved in economic criminal activity had the support of government/Party organs, "Operations of Moscow Organized Crime Reported," FBIS-SOV-89-005, January 9, 1989, p. 81. See also, "Fight Against Mafia Corruption Reviewed," FBIS-SOV-88-194, October 6, 1988, pp. 51-52.

51 "Daily Condemns Artels' Theft of Gold, Goods," FBIS-SOV-88-171, September 2, 1988, pp. 48-50.

52 Panel intervention by Jan Vanous, "The 19th Conference of the CPSU: A Soviet Economy Roundtable," Soviet Economy, vol. 4, April-June 1988, p. 116.

53 Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Organized Crime, op. cit., p. 106.

54 Jim Woolsey's remarks were transcribed in Ibid., p.141.

55 Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Organized Crime, op. cit., p. 136.

56 John Deutch, Statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, April 30, 1996.

57 Ibid., p. 140.

58 "Organized Crime in Russia," op. cit., p. 10. Note: Some Western estimates place the number of crime groups at a lower figure (in the 3000 range), but all agree on the seriousness on the resulting situation.

59 Ibid., p. 4.

60 Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forum, op. cit., p. 3.

61 Lewis J. Freeh, Statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, April 30, 1996.

62 For example, the military leadership in charge of operations in chechnya stopped responding to Moscow's directions. Michael Specter, "Kremlin Jousts With the Army Over Chechnya," The New York Times, August 22, 1996, p. A1, A9.

63 Ibid., p. 141. See also Richard Starr, "How the Mob Moves in on Moscow," The Washington Times, November 27, 1996, p. A15; and Mitchell Landsberg, "Russians Learn How to Live on Nothing," The Washington Times, March 20, 1997, p. A9.

64 Quoted in Turbiville, op. cit. p. 6.

65 "Organized Crime in Russia," op. cit., p. 9.

66 For insight into high-level criminal activity involving Yeltsin's government, see Lee Hockstader, "Scandal Shrouds Kremlin Figures," The Washington Post, August 5, 1996, p. A13.

67 Ibid., and "Political Assassinations in the East," The Fight, op. cit., pp. 1-3.

68 Turbiville, op. cit., pp. 6-7.

69 Theresa Hitchens, "Experts: U.S. Nonproliferation Aid to CIS is Not

Enough," Defense News, February 19-25, 1996, p. 12.

70 Ibid.; Tulegen Askarov, "New Strategic Nuclear Weapons Path Viewed," FBIS-SOV-95-224-S, October 27, 1995; and John Deutch, Statement for the Record to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, March 20, 1996, pp. 3-4.

71 Presentation by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy, Charles B. Curtis, "Securing Fissile Material in the Former Soviet Union," Stimson Center Nuclear Roundtable, February 28, 1996.

72 John Deutch, Statement for the Record to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, March 20, 1996, p. 9. In October 1996, the Russian Government finally approved a set of proposals to set up a government register and introduce monitoring of nuclear materials. Even so, it will take time to actually establish a national inventory control system. See "Russia: Government Approves Proposals on Nuclear Material Security," Interfax, transcribed in FBIS-SOV-95-207, October 23, 1996.

73 For example, see U.S. General Accounting Office, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Status of U.S. Efforts to Improve Nuclear Material Controls in Newly Independent States, GAO/NSIAD/RCED096-89 (Washington: Government Printing Office, March 1996), p. 21.

74 Carla A. Robbins, "Russia's Nuclear Stockpile Still Raises Concerns Despite Major Cutbacks and Improved Security," The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1996, p. A20.

75 In conversations with numerous Western businessmen who have dealt with Russian enterprises, they are always surprised by the accounting systems and the ploys used by Russians to avoid showing their real production levels and subsequent profits.

76 "Organized Crime in Russia," op. cit., p. 9.

77 Ronald F. Lehman II, Assistant to the Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, communication with the author, July 17, 1996.

78 For example, in Germany, citizens must register with the police within three weeks of moving into a new address.

79 The Baltic countries have been a primary route for mineral smuggling. As such, the movement of nuclear materials through this same conduit is possible. See Oleg Blotskiy, "Illegal Nonferrous Metals Export Examined," Literaturnaya Gazeta, FBIS Report: Central Eurasia, February 3, 1993, pp. 56-59; John Deutch, Statement for the Record to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, March 20, 1996, p. 3; and James L. Ford, "Nuclear Smuggling: How Serious A Threat?," Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forum, No. 59, January 1996, p. 3. During CBS's broadcast of "60 Minutes," September 1, 1996, it was claimed that three shipments of beryllium had been intercepted in Lithuania during the last year. Beryllium is used as a reflector shield to bounce neutrons back into the nuclear reaction of an exploding bomb. It acts to increase the nuclear yield or to allow a nuclear-chain reaction to be sustained using less fissile material.

80 John Deutch, Q&A answer to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, April 30, 1996.

81 Nikolayi Nor-Mesek, "Catastrophic State of Nuclear Plants Detailed," Welt Am Sonntag, translated in FBIS-SOV-95-152, August 6, 1995.

82 Paul Mann, "Nuclear Smuggling Called Direct Threat to U.S.," Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 17, 1996, p. 62.

83 Dorthy S. Zinberg, The Missing Link? Nuclear Proliferation and the International Mobility of Russian Nuclear Experts, Research Paper Number 35 (Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, August 1995), p. 22.

84 Olga Kryshtanovskaya, "Sociologist Surveys Russian Mafia, Official Links," Izvestiya, Translated in FBIS-SOV-95-195-S, September 21, 1995.

85 "Nuclear Smuggling Ring Apprehended in Novosibirsk," Moscow Public Television, First Channel, translated in FBIS-SOV-95-250, December 28, 1995; and Yelena Lashko, "Stolen Uranium Imported Into Russia," Izvestiya, translated in FBIS-SOV-97-094, April 4, 1997.

86 While there is a lack of agreement among security analysts on whether or not organized crime groups are currently involved in smuggling fissile materials, there seems to be a high degree of consensus regarding the position "that if organized crime groups are not yet involved in nuclear smuggling, they soon will be."

87 U.S. General Accounting Office, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Status of U.S. Efforts to Improve Nuclear Material Controls in Newly Independent States, op. cit., pp. 20- 21.

88 David Kay, former Chief Inspector, IAEA, during a phone conversation with author, August 19, 1996. Note: if the LEU is enriched to the 3 percent level, about 50 percent of the enrichment effort for weapons-grade material has already occurred.

89 Congressional Research Service, Nuclear Proliferation Fact Book, S. Prt. 103-111, Prepared for the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1994), p. 619.

90 Ibid.

91 Oleg Bukharin and William Potter, "Potatoes Were Guarded Better," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1995, p. 46.

92 Nikolay Poroskov, "Daily Examines CW Elimination Issues," Krasnaya Zvezda, trans. in FBIS-SOV-95-212, November 2, 1995, pp. 43-44.

93 U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction, OTA-BP-ISC-115 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1993), p. 204.

94 "Russian Chemical Weapons Allegedly Sold to Syria," FBIS-SOV-96-012, January 18, 1996, pp. 21-22.

95 Nikolay Poroskov, op. cit., p. 44.

96 U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction, op. cit., p. 8.

97 Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, ISBN 0-16-048591-6 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, April 1996), p. 32.

98 Ibid.

99 Barbara Starr, "Iran Has Vast Stockpiles of CW Agents, Says CIA," Jane's Defense Weekly, August 14, 1996, p. 3.

100 Ibid.

101 Barbara Starr, "Iran Has Vast Stockpiles of CW Agents, Says CIA," op. cit.

102 For an example, see Carla A. Robbins, "Russia's Nuclear Stockpile Still Raises Concerns Despite Major Cutbacks and Improved Security," The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1996, p. A20.

103 "Russian Rocket Engines for India," The Financial Times, July 26, 1994, p. 4.

104 "India With Russia, 4/7/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 142.

105 "Russia Denies Supplying Missiles to India," The Muslim, FBIS-NES-95-242, December 18, 1995.

106 "Administration Pursues Possible MTCR Violations With Russian Government," Inside the Pentagon, March 10, 1995, pp. 1&4.

107 "Technology Smuggled," Jane's Defense Weekly, June 26, 1996, p. 6. The report was based on comments made by Robert Einhorn, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

108 "Iran To Launch Satellite," Jane's Defense Weekly, September 4, 1996, p. 4.

109 Son Yong-kyn, Hanguk, trans. in FBIS-EAS-95-201, October 18, 1995, p. 49.

110 Bill Gertz, "China's Arsenal Gets A Russian Boost," The Washington Times, May 20, 1996, p. 1.

111 Ibid.

112 "Russian ICBM, Forecast International/DMS Market Intelligence Report, February 1996, p. 5.

113 Bill Gertz, "China's Arsenal Gets A Russian Boost," op. cit.

114 Forthcoming book by Peter V. Pry, War Scare: The Russian Nuclear Countdown After the Soviet Fall (Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing, 1997); and Markov, "The Russians and Their Nukes," op. cit.

115 Oleg Volkov and Vladimir Umnov, "Russia: Nuclear Suitcase Secrets Detailed," Ogonek, translated in FBIS-SOV-96-212-S, September 1, 1996.

116 Pry, op. cit.

117 Allen Levine, "Soviet General Says Unrest May Spark Nuclear Terror," The Atlantic Journal/The Atlantic Constitution, October 16, 1991, p. A2; and Pry, op. cit.

118 Ibid.

119 Bill Gertz, "Russia's Nuclear Football Easy to Block," The Washington Times, October 22, 1996, p. A18.

120 Bill Gertz, "Russian Renegades Pose Nuke Danger," The Washington Times, October 22, 1996, p. A1.

121 Bill Gertz, "Lebed Says Nuclear Problems in Russia Pose No Global Threat," The Washington Times, October 23, 1996, p. A11.

122 Bill Gertz, "Russian Renegades Pose Nuke Danger," p. A18.

123 Bill Gertz, "Lebed Says Nuclear Problems in Russia Pose No Global Threat,"

124 Jim Wolf, "CIA Rates 'Low' the Risk of Unauthorized Use of Russian Nuclear Warheads," The Washington Post, October 23, 1996, p. A6.

125 Bruce G. Blair, "Where Would All the Missiles Go?" The Washington Post, October 15, 1995, p. A15; and Bill Gertz, "Missile Defense Fails to Take Spot Among Campaign Issues," The Washington Times, October 22, 1996, p. A18. According to one unconfirmed report by a former Russian missile force officer, some of the PAL devices have been shut off as malfunctions have occurred and funds are not available for repairs. See Colonel Robert Bykov, "Russia: Missile Officer Says Strategic Forces Unsafe," Komsomolskaya Pravda, translated in FBIS-SOV-97-052, March 15, 1997.