The Under-reported Crisis: Russia’s Massive Arms Buildup

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents a two part examination of the lack of adequate coverage of Russia’s massive arms buildup.

Most of the major U.S. media has chosen to provide little coverage of significant military matters, except when an imminent threat arises or shooting actually starts.  One example: North Korea’s immediate nuclear threats have recently made the headlines, but the long years of Pyongyang’s development of its atomic and missile arsenals were touched on only lightly.

Over the past eight years America’s already depleted armed forces were substantially reduced by budget cuts and a White House that sought to divert defense spending to its social welfare agenda, despite the rising threats from Russia, China, and elsewhere.  The major media was largely supportive of that policy, and underreported the looming dangers. That press trend continues.

While the U.S. was in the midst of an extensive reduction in military spending, Moscow, starting in 2010, launched a $720 billion modernization program. As noted by the Economist  in 2014, “Russia’s defence spending has nearly doubled in nominal terms since 2007. This year alone it will rise by 18.4%.”

The relative military positions of Washington and Moscow were reversed during the Obama Administration.  Russia now, for the first time in history, is the world’s most powerful nuclear state,  a result of the Obama/Clinton New START treaty. The Wall Street Journal noted that President Obama had only a “a dim and faddish understanding of nuclear realities.”

The bizarre sale of American uranium interests to Russia, (uranium is the key ingredient for atomic weapons) and the resulting profit to the Clinton Foundation remains of the most under-discussed scandals in U.S. history.

Moscow’s nuclear development has been matched by Putin’s massive investment in his conventional forces.

Last year, as reported by the New York Analysis of Policy and Government,  USMC Lt. General Vincent R. Stewart, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, addressed the House Armed Services Committee on key threats facing the United States. He noted thatMoscow continues to devote major resources to modernizing its military forces, viewing military power as critical to achieving key strategic objectives: acknowledged great power status, dominating smaller regional states and deterring NATO from military action in Eurasia. Russian leadership considers a capable and survivable nuclear force as the foundation of its strategic deterrent capability, and modernized, agile general purpose forces as vital for Eurasian and limited out-of-area power projection.” For a more thorough examination of the growing imbalance in the U.S. nuclear deterrent, see the New York Analysis article, “Russian Nuclear Weapons Modernize while U.S. Arsenal Diminishes”

Some of the Kremlin’s massive arms buildup violated existing treaties. In October, Rep. Thornberry (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Armed Services, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) penned an urgent letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you again because of our urgent concern about the failure of your Administration to confront Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty…Neither the State Department nor Defense Department imposed consequences on Russia…your Administration is not permitting the military to pursue the options recommended to you by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey. It is now apparent to us that the situation regarding Russia’s violation has worsened…”

The Washington Free Beacon reported late in 2016 that “ Moscow has increased its deployed nuclear warheads over the last six months as the United States has reduced its own…Russia deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, Russia, its small territory bordering Lithuania and Poland, both NATO members.”

There are also concerns that Moscow may have violated other accords relating to nuclear weapons testing. The British newspaper The Sun  reported in February that the “U.S. [sent a] specialist nuke-hunter plane to the UK as ‘radiation spike’ sparks fears Putin has tested nuclear weapon in the Arctic… Many point to [a] radiation spike as “proof” the Russians have restarted nuclear weapons testing at Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic.

The Report concludes tomorrow