This week, Russia announced that it received over ten new S-350 Vityaz surface to air missiles. These missiles were delivered to the Leningrad region to conduct testing and training exercises with the military. The S-350’s are the newest iteration of the missile, which are designed to be fired from the ground to destroy enemy aircraft or missile targets. The S-350 was developed and manufactured by Almaz-Antey, a state owned weapons and defense system developer that produces surveillance equipment, surface to surface missiles, vehicles, and aircraft defense systems. When compared to the older versions, like the S-400, the S-350 provides greater range and accuracy. Russia has been modernizing and bolstering its military with new equipment and technology through a state rearmament program. The rearmament program will also see additional S-350’s sent to Siberia in 2021. President Vladimir Putin said that the rearmament program will be instrumental to “implementing Russia’s military and industrial policy in spheres of defense and security” to which the S-350 will be crucial.
Russia has expanded military spending and operations, conducting training across their vast territory. Earlier in 2019, Russia conducted tactical drills with nuclear capable strategic bombers near Alaskan territory. More recently, Russia launched tests of hypersonic cruise missiles from nuclear submarines and, in a separate exercise, conducted military drills and tactical maneuvering in the mountainous training range in Tajikistan. The response from the United States has been one of concern as well as skepticism. Some believe Russia is aiming to re-establish itself as the dominate hegemon in Eurasia whereas others believe Russia is simply updating their largely obsolete Soviet era weapons and military technology. Nevertheless, tensions continue to grow between Russia and the United States since US President, Donald Trump, withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The INF treaty, was an agreement formed between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, and was meant to limit each nation’s number of mid-range nuclear missiles. Both the United States and Russia have claimed that the other party has broken the agreement, which has led to a pseudo-arms race between the countries. Russia intends to rearm the military, air force and navy with over 100 ships, 600 planes and modernization of equipment. Regardless of Russia’s intentions with their rearmament program and similarly for the United States, more weapons and advanced military technologies between potentially hostile countries is extremely dangerous for the continuity of peace between two world superpowers.