In an interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam earlier this week, commander of the Estonian Defence Forces' Military Intelligence Battalion, Col. Kaupo Rosin, commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin's campaign speech and introduction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, and the chance that they really exist.
Rosin said that Putin concentrated on nuclear power in his speech precisely because this is the only field of military technology where Russia has the capacity to keep up with the Western allies.
Talking about the animated demonstration videos that were shown during the speech, which among other things introduced new high-performance missiles, laser systems, and unmanned submarines, Rosin said that anyone with the necessary equipment and skills could produce "cartoons" like that.
"To make this some military capacity to be reckoned with, it needs to really exist, to be tested, certified, and integrated in [Russia's] armament," Rosin said. "At the moment we're looking at nice cartoons. I doubt that all this looks as nice in real life."
Asked if Russia's military industry is actually capable of producing weapons of the kind shown during Putin's speech, Rosin said that Russia's defense contractors are faced with problems ranging from a lack of skills and technology to resources. The main issues are high-tech systems, and production volumes. "They can't compete with the weapons industries of the bigger Western allies, especially the United States, but they cover [Russia's] own requirements up to a point," Rosin said.
Putin's speech as part of his presidential campaign this year promised something for everyone, Rosin pointed out. Every part of life was promised something, the people were told about the areas where something needs to be done. Putin wants to create an image of himself as the country's strongman, who has everything under control, who directs resources where they are needed, and defends the Russian people against all kinds of outside dangers, Rosin added, and that was the message of the speech as well.
Rosin: Russia wants new European, global security architecture
In Rosin's assessment, Russia is pursuing the long-term goal of a new security architecture for Europe and the world. In this new order, Russia plays an important role in important matters. "And I'm not sure if NATO or the European Union are part of this plan as they exist now," he added.
Russia will use any means at its disposal to achieve its goals, Rosin said. "These could be information operations, diplomatic and economic measures, if necessary the covert deployment of some military units, everyday meddling of its special services, all of this is part of this activity."
An example for this approach is Montenegro. Only months before the country joined NATO in June last year there was an attempt at a coup d'état by members of the political opposition as well as Serbian nationals and Russian agents. The situation was artificially escalated, and an attempt was made at installing a different government. This kind of operation demonstrated the lengths to which Russia is prepared to go to broaden its influence, Rosin said.
Following Putin's speech and his reference to 80 new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 102 new ballistic missiles that can be launched from submarines, and submarine cruisers armed with nuclear weapons, the NATO allies now need to assess the situation, understand what Russia's real capacity is, and find an appropriate response, Rosin said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn