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China Daily Website

Russian drill reminds world of military muscle

Updated: 2012-10-22 07:57
By Qin Zhongwei ( China Daily)

Russia's recent command drill of its strategic forces - the largest in the country's modern history - demonstrates its military might to the world and particularly to the United States during a critical stage of the country's presidential election, analysts said.

"It aims to remind the world that Russia still has its 'trump card' and is fully capable of defending its national interests," said Xing Guangcheng, a researcher of Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Russia staged its largest nuclear command exercise in recent history on Friday and Saturday, spokesman of the Russian President Dmitri Peskov said.

Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, all components of the nuclear forces, including the long-range air forces and the sea and ground forces, participated in the drill.

The defense ministry confirmed that the Russian Strategic and Space Forces tested intercontinental ballistic missile Topol on Friday.

Topol RS-12M - SS-25 "Sickle" by NATO classification - was launched from Plesetsk space center in Northern Russia, with its warhead hitting target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, according to the ministry's spokesman Vadim Koval.

State-owned broadcaster Voice of Russia reported that the Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine of the Pacific Fleet also launched a ballistic missile on Friday from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Chizha testing ground in the north of European Russia.

Such displays are not unusual in Russia, especially at a period when the government is trying to "beef up the military", Pavel Podvig, a researcher with the Russian Nuclear Forces Project, told the New York Times. He said he did not see Putin's leading role in the missile test as being intended to send any particular message.

Chinese experts said the drill, while not openly naming any country as its enemy, had a clear "potential opponent", which was the US. Seeing as the US is approaching the Nov 6 presidential election, the drill adds uncertainties to the future of the Russia-US relationship.

"Besides China, Russia is also a frequent topic during the debates of the two presidential candidates," Xing said, adding that Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, is particularly tough on Russia. Romney called Russia the No 1 foe of the US during the latest debate between himself and incumbent US President Barack Obama.

As many of its neighboring countries are undergoing leadership transitions later this year, Russia wants to remind them of its military capability, and show it is still an important player on the global political-military stage, according to Su Hao, a professor of security affairs at China Foreign Affairs University.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

qinzhongwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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