Russia will begin production six years from now of a new heavy ICBM that can better penetrate the US missile defense system in Europe, the head of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces said.
“The building of the missile continues, it will be complete in 2018,” Colonel-General Sergey Karakayev said in an interview with RIA-Novosti.
The new and as-yet-unnamed silo-based ICBM will replace the R-36M2 ‘Voyevoda’ missile (known to NATO as the SS-18 ‘Satan’).
Karakayev first announced the project in May 2011, when he revealed that the planned ICBM design will be capable of bypassing missile defense systems within the next 15-20 years.
"Speaking about combat effectiveness, it is necessary to note the new missiles' ability to be invulnerable before launch thanks to their mobility, as well as their ability to tackle the task of defeating any possible missile defense system within the next 15-20 years, should such a need arise," Karakayev said.
The message, as well as the latest mention of missile defense, comes as a Russian response to US plans to deploy components of its global missile defense system near Russia’s borders. Such a move would upset the current global balance of nuclear power.
The US claimed that its system is a safeguard against threats from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, but refused to offer Russia legally binding guarantees that the system would be limited to this purpose. A legally binding guarantee would give Russia the right to inspect the system, along with possible access to other military bases.
Karakayev’s statements show that Russia still considers the US missile defense system a national security threat, and is preparing an asymmetrical response by developing weapons capable of breaching the system. Russia is also deploying shorter-range ballistic missiles near its Western borders, to conduct strikes against the missile defense shield if such need arises.
Tensions over the project were nearly resolved in 2010 when the US announced it had abandoned a plan to deploy missile defense radar and interceptors to Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia responded by scrapping plans to deploy the short-range missiles to its westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad.
This thaw came to an end in 2011 when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed plans to install a missile defense base in Poland by 2018.
In early August, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the planned US deployment of a missile defense system in Europe could mean the return of a Cold War-style arms race. “It would be damaging strategic stability in violation of all the OSCE members' obligations not to strengthen their security at the expense of others," Lavrov told reporters in Helsinki, Finland.