Russian Modernization of Its ICBM Force

Russian Modernization of Its ICBM Force
RU-RTR Russian Television via AP
Russian Modernization of Its ICBM Force
RU-RTR Russian Television via AP
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Since 1997, Russia has been modernizing its ICBMs by replacing legacy Soviet ICBMs with new (post-Cold War) systems. In December 2019, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, commander of Russia’s ICBM force (the Strategic Missile Force or RVSN) stated that 76%[1] of Russia’s ICBM force had been modernized and that 100% would be by 2024.[2]  (By comparison, U.S. ICBM modernization begins in FY2029 despite the fact the U.S. Minuteman ICBM is much older than any legacy Russian ICBM). The most important Russian Defense Ministry revelations in December 2019 was that the Avangard hypersonic boost glide vehicle was operational[3] and that Russia was going to deploy 20 regiments of its new Sarmat heavy ICBM by 2027.[4] This would represent an enormous increase in the number of strategic nuclear warheads that can be delivered by Russia’s ICBM force, the percentage of Russian strategic nuclear weapons deployed on its ICBMs, and in Russia’s nuclear warfighting capability. Moreover, this increase is on top of a long planned strategic nuclear force with "no less than 2,000 warheads," according to Yuriy Solomonov, chief designer to the Russian SS-27 ICBM and the Bulava-30 SLBM.[5]

The percentage of Russian strategic nuclear warheads deployed on its ICBMs was always high. In December 2019, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that two-thirds of Russia’s strategic nuclear warheads were carried by Russia’s ICBMs.[6] Twenty regiments of Sarmat ICBMs would represent a radical departure from the Yeltsin nuclear modernization program, which placed substantial emphasis on survivability and reflects Putin’s movement toward warfighting as the main objective. Current Russian policy also represents a complete rejection of the logic of the Reagan-era Scowcroft report, which urged de-MIRVing of all U.S. ICBMs and has resulted in this.[7] According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, “…prior to 2010, no SRF [Strategic Rocket Force] road-mobile ICBMs carried MIRVs; by the early 2020s, all will do so.”

The Current Russian ICBM Force

Almost no information provided by Russia on its strategic nuclear force in accordance with the New START Treaty is made public. This represents a vast reduction from what was publicly available under the original START Treaty. Our information mainly comes from the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian media, and to a limited degree from the U.S. Department of Defense and the American press. Official Russian information is designed to scare the West. However, even without exaggeration, the scope of the Russian program is scary.

In February 2020, Russian journalist Igor Rozin writing in Russian state media listed the current composition of the Russian ICBM force as:

  • 46 R-36M2 (SS-18) heavy missiles
  • 2 Avangard systems (UR-100NUTTKh, SS-19 Mod 4 missiles)
  • 45 Topol (SS-25) road-mobile systems
  • 60 Topol-M (SS-27) silo-based systems
  • 18 Topol-M (SS-27) mobile systems
  • 135 mobile and 14 silo-based systems with RS-24 Yars missiles [SS-27 Mod 2].[8]

While certainty is impossible, it is likely that the Rozin force is close to the ICBM force described by Russia in its New START Treaty data declarations (not made public). There is a significant similarity in the depiction of the Russian ICBM force in the now somewhat out of date 2017 DIA report on Russia Military Power. Using Rozin’s numbers, the percentage of modern systems (the SS-27 variants and the Avangard) is over 70%. This is close enough to General Karakayev’s 76% number to give Rozin’s numbers some credibility.

Rozin’s numbers are also close to those published in March 2020 by Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda to the Federation of American Scientists, who indicated, “Based on what we can observe via satellite images, combined with information published under New START by various U.S. government sources, Russia appears to have approximately 302 deployed ICBMs, which we estimate can carry approximately 1,136 warheads."[9] What the Russian ICBM force “does carry” and what it “can carry” are two different things. Russia’s ICBMs certainly can carry a lot more than 1,136 warheads. (A single SS-18 ICBM, according to ITAR-TASS, can carry 36 warheads, a total of 1,656 assuming Rozin’s number of 46 SS-18.)[10] Kristensen and Korda’s assumption appears to be that the declared Russian number for its deployed ICBM warheads, SLBM warheads and accountable bomber weapons (which is made public) is accurate despite the long history of Soviet/Russian cheating on arms control agreements and the inability under the New START Treaty to verify it. There are serious questions about Russia’s honesty after early 2017 when Russia was facing the entry into force the New START deployed warhead limits forcing a cut of about 250 Russian warheads in a year if they were to comply. Russia's declared number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads on September 1, 2016, was 1,796.[11]

If Kristensen and Korda mean that Russian ICBMs actually carry 1,136 warheads, which I believe they do, the implication of this is very important. If this number is accurate, it means that there has been virtually no reduction as a result of the New START Treaty limits coming into effect. The 2017 DIA report on Russia Military Power says, “Russia retains about 1,200 nuclear warheads for ICBMs.” Russia, and its arms control enthusiast support base in the U.S., want us to believe that they actually reduced this number to 1,326 by March 1, 2020[12], despite the fact that during this period, Russia deployed large numbers of heavily MIRVed SS-27 Mod 2 mobile ICBMs to replace the same number of Soviet-era single-warhead SS-25 ICBMs and a heavily MIRVed Borei ballistic missile submarine.

If Kristensen and Korda’s 1,136 number is accurate, the total number of accountable warheads under the New START Treaty available for the Russian bomber force and the Russian sea-based ballistic missile force was only 190 on March 1, 2020. Kristensen and Korda estimate the number of Russian SLBM warheads as "possibly around 560." Add their 1,136 ICBM warheads, and the Russians have 1,696 warheads plus about 50 accountable bomber weapons, or 1,746. If 1,136 represents two thirds of Russia’s strategic force, it would have to have about 1,700 warheads, not the 1,326 Russia claims it has. Moreover, in December 2017, state-run TASS quoted the Russian journalist Colonel (ret.) Viktor Litovkin as saying that Russia “…has five hundred strategic missiles carrying over 1,800 nuclear warheads,” which is at least 239 more warheads and about seventy more deployed missiles than Russia claimed it had in September 2017.[13] If Russia has more than 1,550 deployed warheads, it violates the New START Treaty.

This is not the only evidence of Russian cheating. In March 2011, state-run Ria Novosti reported that Russia had “over 400 ICBMs”.[14] On numerous occasions between 2013 and 2017. General Karakayev stated that the Strategic Missile Force had 400 ICBMs.[15] In December 2019, Russian state media again reported that, “Spread around the country in silos and on truck-mountable containers are about 400 ICBMs, each with multiple nuclear warheads as their payload.”[16] Rozin’s ICBM force numbers add up to just over 300. Russian émigré Pavel Podvig, who operates a blog on Russian strategic forces, estimated the Russian ICBM force at about 300 at the time of Karakayev’s statements.[17] An ICBM force of 400 deployed ICBMs does not fit into the repeated Russian declarations of just over 500 deployed delivery vehicles (ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers) under the New START Treaty, which is one of three numbers provided by Russia that does get made public.

In particular, in 2014, General Karakayev explicitly stated that the Strategic Missile Force “…has around 400 missiles with warheads on combat duty.”[18] If there are 400 ICBMs “with warheads on combat duty”, they are clearly deployed ICBMs under the New START Treaty. If his 400 number is correct, this has to equate to a covertly deployed ICBM force of about 100 MIRVed ICBMs and a major New START Treaty violation. Since we have not monitored either the production or the elimination of Russian mobile ICBMs since the expiration of the original START Treaty in 2009, this is possible if Russia simply did not notify us of all the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars ICBMs it produced and set up a hidden force.

In December 2018, General Karakayev said that “…the nuclear potentials of the sides have [been] reduced more than 66% since the signing of START I.”[19] This is a major departure from the normal Russian position. At the United Nations in April 2018, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N Dmitry Polyanskiy declared that "Russia cut its nuclear arsenal by over 85 percent as compared to its stockpiles at the height of the Cold War."[20] If one uses the late Soviet reported number of over 10,000 deployed strategic nuclear warheads for the calculation,[21] the difference between an 85% reduction and a 66% reduction is almost 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads above the supposed New START Treaty allowed level of 1,550. This is much higher than any recent open-source estimate of deployed Russian strategic nuclear warheads. For example, in 2018, Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris estimated that Russia had 2,522 deployed strategic nuclear warheads.[22]

If General Karakayev’s statement about the percentage of Russian strategic nuclear reductions is true, Russia has to have a covert ICBM force since the undercounting of bomber weapons alone under New START can’t entirely explain his statement. Indeed, it roughly correlates to General Karakayev’s declaration that he has “around 400 missiles with warheads on combat duty.” The only thing the hundred could be is mobile MIRVed ICBMs since we have not monitored Russian production of mobile MIRVed ICBMs since the expiration or the START Treaty in 2009.

The Beginning of Russian ICBM Modernization – the SS-27

The SS-27 was the first post-Cold War new Russian ICBM, and it will be the main Russian ICBM for many years to come. We know a lot about the SS-27 variants because the original missile (SS-27 Mod 1) was declared under the original START Treaty. This resulted in a substantial amount of technical data about the missile becoming public and Russian officials talk about them a lot. The Russians never declared the SS-27 Mod 2/RS-24 Yars under the START Treaty because it would have proven a Russian START Treaty violation since the missile was a MIRVed version of the original single warhead the SS-27 Mod 1.[23] Russia could not legally MIRV a single warhead missile under Article Five of the original START Treaty, then legally in effect. Colonel General (ret.) Viktor Yesin, former commander of the Strategic Missile Force, has stated that the throw-weight of the RS-24 Yars was 1,400-kg, higher than the 1,200-kg declared throw-weight for the SS-27 Mod 1.[24] This also constituted a START Treaty violation since under New START, the SS-27 could not legally have more than 1,210-kg of throw-weight.

Very important in assessing the capabilities of the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars ICBM is the fact that the new Russian Bulava-30 SLBM was declared under the START Treaty as having a throw-weight of 1,150-kg and as carrying six warheads.[25] Russian data made public under the START Treaty provides evidence that Russia has, since the end of the Cold War, developed new lighter and advanced warheads for its new strategic weapons. START data shows that the amount of throw-weight for the six warhead Bulava-30 (RSM-56) is lower per warhead than any previous Soviet Cold War-era missile and at least comparable to the best U.S. Cold War design.[26] Then-Russian Defense Minister Colonel General Sergei Ivanov stated that the Bulava-30 and the Yars carried the same warhead.[27] Since the SS-27 throw-weight is higher than the Bulava-30, anything that it can carry can be carried by the SS-27. Russian press reports in the same time period usually characterized the yield of the Bulava-30 warhead as 100-kilotons (kt), and there were reports it also had a low sub-kiloton option.[28]

Starting in 2008, state-run Ria Novosti reported the Yars “can carry between 6 and 10 warheads with yields ranging from 150 kilotons to 300 kilotons.”[29] While 100-kt and 150-kt might be references to the same warhead, a yield of 300-kt[30] suggests a second warhead type. In 2013, state-run R.T. reported that Russia had tested the Yars, which "can deliver at least four thermonuclear warheads weighing [sic! yielding] 300 kilotons each…”[31] In 2017, TASS indicated three 300-kt warheads can be carried by the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars.[32] These reports are interesting because of the reported 350-kt “medium” warhead associated with the Sarmat heavy ICBM.[33] Russian state-media also says that the RS-26 Rubezh “ICBM” (really an intermediate-range missile), now reportedly on hold pending a production decision in 2027, also carries four 300-kt warheads.[34]

It is certainly possible that these reports may be about the same warhead or variants of it. A 300-kt warhead could be aimed at increasing the counterforce capability of the SS-27 Mod 2. Neither 300-kt nor 350-kt appears in the Russian press as a yield associated with a Soviet-era ICBM or SLBM. According to Colonel (ret.) Dr. Robert Hawkins, Senior Fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nuclear warhead the Bullava-30 carries, is “newly designed and newly manufactured warheads.”

During the Yeltsin era, the Russian National Security Council reportedly decided in April 1999 to approve a concept for developing and using of “…non-strategic low- and flexible-yield battlefield weapons,” and that the yield of these precision weapons would be tens or hundreds of tons of TNT.[35] “Flexible yield” is clearly what we call “variable yield” or “dial a yield.” If the Russians have done the same with their new strategic warheads, they would have a massive advantage in low-yield strategic nuclear warfighting capability compared to the small U.S. program for the low-yield Trident warhead which is intended to deter not warfighting. The 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review did not announce any program for a low-yield ICBM warhead. The implication of this was stated in 1999 by Colonel General Vladimir Muravyev, then-Deputy Commander of the Strategic Missile Force, who said that low-yield nuclear weapons “are capable of nullifying the combat qualities of all modern conventional systems.”[36]

The maximum number of warheads deployed on the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars is now apparently six and at least four of these warheads were to be deployed on each missile according to a commander of the Strategic Missile Force.[37] The number of warheads on some of the missiles may increase to ten according to many Russian press reports.[38] This would require a new smaller warhead for a variety of reasons. In 2006, a new “miniature” warhead was reportedly under development for the Bulava-30 and the “Topol M” (later called the RS-24/Yars).[39]

In December 2019, Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu stated that "In 2020, the ministry will have several priorities: 22 launchers with Yars and Avangard ballistic missiles are to be put on combat duty at the Strategic Missile Forces…”[40] (Emphasis in the original). This will likely increase ICBM force modernization to over 80%. Since according to Rozin, the Russians have only 45 SS-25 to replace with SS-27 Mod 2/Yars, they should finish this modernization in about two years if they sustain this rate.

In 2010, Yuri Solomonov stated that Russia would be introducing new warheads for the Yars ICBM in 2016.[41] In 2011, he talked about warheads that can maneuver without the normal large post-boost vehicle.[42] He linked these to penetration of missile defense systems saying they will “put a full stop on all discussions regarding our countermeasures towards non-existent antiballistic missile defense system of our potential enemy.”[43] (Emphasis in the original). Russia has reportedly been testing SS-27 warheads with "mini-buses" attached to them, allowing exo-atmospheric maneuvers.[44] It is possible that these could have been deployed without public announcement. Indeed, in recent years, Russia has talked about the deployment of the Yars-S or the Yars MGMS,[45] but give no details about them.

The Avangard

The Avangard nuclear-armed hypersonic boost-glide vehicle became operational in December 2019. Formerly called Project 4202, it uses the Soviet legacy SS-19/UR-100NUTTH ICBM, a large ballistic missile, to boost the large hypersonic glider.[46] The new Russian Sarmat heavy ICBM, now under development (not yet tested in a full launch), is also reported to carry the glider as one of its warhead options. The reported speed of the Avangard is 24,000-km per hour.[47] TASS states that the Avangard carries a two-megaton nuclear warhead.[48] This apparently will be a silver bullet force because the Russians reportedly plan to deploy only 12 of them[49], at least until the glider will be deployed on some of the new Sarmat heavy ICBMs. Its main function will likely be a surprise nuclear attack on critical U.S. time urgent strategic targets.

General John Hyten, then-commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, warned about the threat posed by Russian hypersonic weapons if the U.S. does not counter them. He said that hypersonic weapons would allow Russia to attack on a global basis with little or no warning.[50] General Hyten noted that a hypersonic missile “disappears and we don’t see it until the effect is delivered.”[51] While with a ballistic missile. General Hyten stated it would take 30 minutes to strike a U.S. target; with a hypersonic weapon, “it could be half of that.”[52] Hypersonic missiles have very good capabilities to penetrate strategic missile defenses, but the Russian senior military and political leadership are fully aware that Russia does not need it for that purpose. A great irony is that the Soviet-era SS-19 equipped with 4-6 powerful nuclear warheads and many missile defense countermeasures will get more nuclear warheads on target in the U.S. than the same number of boosters equipped with a single Avangard hypersonic glider.

The New Sarmat Heavy ICBM

The new RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM is probably the most important of Putin's new nuclear superweapons because it will become Russia's main counterforce weapon. Deputy Minister of Defense Yuri Borisov said it can deliver payloads of up to 10 metric tons of throw-weight (or payload).[53] Older press reports concerning its warhead delivery capability credited it with ten “heavy” and 15 “medium” warheads.[54] Russian state-media says the “heavy” warhead has a yield of 800-kt.[55] As noted above, the “medium” warhead is reported to have a yield of 350-kt. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the “…Sarmat will be able to carry up to 20 warheads of small, medium, high power classes.”[56] Based upon the stated throw-weight of the Sarmat missile, all of these reports may understate the ability of the missile to carry warheads. According to noted military analyst James R. Howe, the Sarmat "could carry up to 50 90-kilogram W.H. [warheads] with a 75-100 kiloton-yield [a Bulava-30 class W.H.].” Russia will likely deploy a mix of the three warheads, but in light of the probable counterforce mission of the Sarmat, we are likely to see a lot of the mediums deployed. Since the Sarmat is 30 years newer than the legacy Soviet SS-18 ICBM, there will obviously be a major improvement in accuracy. The Russians say that the Sarmat can attack the U.S. over the South Pole[57], apparently to exploit limitations in U.S. early warning radar coverage. There is no other apparent reason to shoot over the South Pole because a longer flight would normally degrade accuracy.

The Sarmat is also reportedly capable of carrying three to five of the large Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicles.[58] The Avangard glider reportedly weighs 2,000-kg.[59] A photograph of what is apparently the Avangard vehicle covered by an accent shroud[60] has appeared on the internet. It gives a clear indication of the size of the Avangard. By comparison, the small ballistic warheads deployed on the Bulava-30 SLBM and the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars ICBM reportedly weigh 90-kg or so.[61] There are a number of reports in the Russian press that Russia has developed a 100-kg warhead of 100-kt.[62] The presence of the Avangard on the Sarmat could render New START Treaty re-entry vehicle inspections completely ineffective.[63] Thus, a warhead inspection cover designed to cover the Avangard could clearly cover at least several Russian missile warheads.

A Massive Expansion of the Planned Sarmat Deployment

In December 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin was told by a Defense Ministry official, "It is planned to rearm 20 missile regiments with the Sarmat and put them on combat duty from 2020 to 2027."[64] Since Russian heavy ICBM regiments contain either 6 or 10 deployed missiles[65], this translates into 120 to 200 deployed Sarmat ICBMs. This is an enormous increase from the previous program of 46 reported years ago.[66] Since the Russians plan to complete ICBM modernization by 2024[67], any planned Sarmat deployment after 2024 has to be force expansion. The claimed operational date for the Sarmat is unrealistic (the Russians would have to deploy it after a small number of successful tests). Yet, the Russians will deploy Sarmat in large numbers before we start modernizing our ICBM force. The decline in deployed Russian warhead numbers in its March 2020 data just released by the State Department may reflect taking a regiment of SS-18 offline for conversion to the Sarmat.[68]

If Russia deploys 20 regiments of Sarmats, its main function is likely nuclear warfighting rather than deterrence. Certainly, Russia will make every effort to make them a survivable as possible. In 2011, TASS reported that the new heavy ICBM that would later be called the Sarmat would be provided with “a fundamentally new level of fortification…camouflage, wide use of electronic jamming” and, “their active defense, as well through the deployment of long-range S-400 ABM systems and high-altitude S-500 systems capable of destroying on a par with space and air weapons the warheads of ICBMs and the enemy’s precision weapons, including missiles and aircraft bombs and cruise missiles.”[69] Even with all this, the Sarmat is probably the least effective way of achieving high levels of survivability and the most effective way to achieve high levels of pre-emptive nuclear strike capability against numerous hard military targets. This is very much the Soviet mentality continuing to dominate Russian defense policy.

Post-Sarmat Russian Modernization Programs

Obviously, not everything the Russians are developing is officially announced at any given time. Russia’s state-media and non-state media sometimes, but not always, reports about these programs before they are announced. TASS has said that work is beginning on a new smaller, lighter, more maneuverable replacement for the Yars ICBM for deployment in the 2030s.[70] It is unclear how this missile differs from the RS-26 other than presumably greater range. Russia also has a program for a rail-mobile ICBM called the Barguzin, which reportedly uses a version of the SS-27 Mod 2/Yars.[71] TASS says it has been put on hold pending a 2027 decision on deployment.[72] In 2015, the development of a second type of liquid-fuel ICBM characterized as an “advanced project” was reported.[73] It could be a successor to the legacy SS-19 ICBM. It reportedly would carry up to 12 warheads.[74] Russia will almost certainly improve the Sarmat after it is deployed.


Russian modernization of its ICBM force is nearing completion. Every element of it will probably have been replaced or upgraded within the next five years or so. While the Russians may not meet their claim of complete ICBM modernization by 2024, they are virtually certain to complete more than 90% of it by that year with complete modernization likely a year or two later. Russian ICBM modernization is almost certainly going to be never-ending. The Sarmat program is now more than modernization – it is force expansion. After Russia modernizes 100% of its ICBM force, they will likely be working on improved versions and follow-on systems that they have not yet announced. The systems they are developing and deploying make no sense if they plan to comply with the New START Treaty or any follow-on arms control treaty. The Russian leadership knows that it can cheat and almost all of the time get away with it without any significant consequences. Their violation of the INF Treaty is not an exception to the norm but rather the norm. Their programs dwarf the U.S. ICBM modernization program. They are primarily oriented toward nuclear warfighting and the mentality behind them is pure Soviet.

Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions.  He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.


[1] “Proportion of advanced weapons in Russia’s RVSN reaches 76% - Defense Ministry,Interfax : Ukraine General Newswire, December 17, 2019, available at /docview/2327264936/fulltext/16E7AFC10B32867ACE7/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac =16E7AFC10B32867ACE7/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone16f157adf38.

[2] “Russian Strategic Missile Forces to be fully equipped with modern systems by 2024,” TASS, December 16, 2019, available at “Five regiments re-equipped, put on combat duty in RVSN this year – commander,” Interfax, December 27, 2019, available at newsstand/docview/2330795218/fulltext/16EB3BAEDCE5E401933/1?accountid=155509&site=professional newsstand&t:ac=16EB3BAEDCE5E401933/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactional Zone16f4e39bb09.

[3] “First regiment of Avangard hypersonic missile systems goes on combat duty in Russia,” TASS, December 27, 2019, available at

[4] “Russia plans to finalize tests of new Sarmat ICBM in 2021 - National Defense Control Center (Part 2),” Interfax, December 24, 2019, available at 2330058625/fulltext/16EA95F44AC53E23FA3/115?accountid=55509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=16EA9 5F44AC53E23FA3/6&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_16f43e5c4d1.: “Russia to Finish Testing New Sarmat ICBM in 2021 – Military,” Sputnik, December 24, 2019, available at https://dialog /198?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=16EA95F44AC53E23FA3/10&t:cp=maintain/ resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone16f44002.;7f. State-run Ria Novosti also reported 20 planned regiments of the Sarmat. “Highlights of Russia's arms procurement programme for 2018-2027,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, December 30, 2019, available at sstand/docview/2331240824/fulltext/16EE61E9B4F3E41099/9?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewssta nd&t:ac=16EE61E9B4F3E41099/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone 16f809d68c8.

[5] “Expert: Russia To Have No Less Than 2,000 Nuclear Warheads By 2020,” Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostey, April 13, 2006. (Translated by World News Connection).

[6] “Proportion of advanced weapons in Russia's RVSN reaches 76% - Defense Ministry,” op. cit.

[7] “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms, Fact Sheet, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of State, January 1, 2020), available at

[8] Igor Rozin, “Russia’s ground-based nuclear shield set to become invulnerable,” Russia Beyond the Headlines, February 21, 2020, available at

[9] Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Russian nuclear forces, 2020,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 76, 2020 - Issue 2, March 9, 2020, available at .2020.1728985.

[10] “Russia Strategic Missile Forces Launch Command-staff Exercise,” ITAR-TASS, March 10, 2010. (No longer posted on the TASS web site).

[11] “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms,” (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of State, October 1, 2016,  available at

[12] “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms,” (U.S. Department of State, March 1, 2020), available at

[13] “Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces as its decisive defense,” TASS, December 19, 2017, available at http://tass. com/defense/981811.: U.S. Department of State, “Fact Sheets: New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms,” U.S. Department of State, October 2, 2017, available at avc/newstart/274550.htm.

[14]Russia to develop new ballistic missile system by 2013,” Ria Novosti, March 17, 2011, available at http://en.rian. ru/mlitarynews/20110317/163056088.htmlsti).

[15] “Some 400 ICBMs are on combat duty in Russia – RVSN commander,” Interfax, December 16, 2014, available at “Russian Strategic Missile Troops have about 400 ICBM launchers – commander,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, December 17, 2013, available at; “Russia’s RVSN has some 400 ICBMs on duty – commander,” Interfax, December 15, 2016, available at https://dialog.Proquest .com/professional/docview/1849129740?accountid=155509.; “Ordnance; Russian Strategic Missile Forces comprise approx. 400 ICBMs – commander.” Interfax, December 17, 2017, available at professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/1963335174/fulltext/17078CBBA9F16F6BAD1/1?Accountid =155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=17078CBBA9F16 F6BAD1/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitation blocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_171134a8a8a.; Mark Schneider, “Russian Violations of the INF and New START Treaties,” Information Series Issue No. 410, (Washington D.C.: Natioanl Institute for Public Policy, August 15, 2016), available at; “Russian Strategic Missile Force armed with about 400 ballistic missiles — Defense Ministry,” TASS, December 15, 2016, available at; “Army; Russian Strategic Missile Forces comprise approx. 400 ICBMs – commander, Interfax, November 13, 2017, available at professional/professional newsstand/docview/1963796939/fulltext/17078CBBA9F16F6BAD1/2?Accountid =155509&site=professional newsstand&t:ac=17078C BBA9F16F6BAD1/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocks brief&t:zoneid=transactional Zone_1711354130f.

[16] “World’s end at their fingertips: Russian troops in charge of ground-launched ICBMs celebrate 60th anniversary,” RT, December 17, 2018, available at

[17] Pavel Podvig, “Russian strategic forces in January 2014,”, January 15, 2015, available at http: //

[18] “Some 400 ICBMs are on combat duty in Russia – RVSN commander,” op. cit.

[19] “U.S. to seek ways of leveling capacities of Russian strategic nuclear forces - Gen. Karakayev,” Interfax, December 17, 2018, available at 3980/fulltext/170A12F3A8169524B30/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=170A12F3A8169524B30/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone1713bae0b2d.

[20] “Statement by Mr. Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N., during General Debate at the U.N. Disarmament Commission 2018,” Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, April 2, 2018, available at

[21] “FACTBOX – Strategic Missile Forces Day in Russia,” Sputnik, December 17, 2018, available at https://dialog accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=170A1307 5F1754EEEB6/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcit ationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_1713baf472d.

[22] Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris, “Russian nuclear forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April

30, 2018, p. 186, available at

[23] Mark B. Schneider, New START: The Anatomy of a Failed Negotiation, (Fairfax Va.: National Institute Press®, July 2012), pp. 61-62, available at

[24] Ibid.: Pavel Felgenhauer, “Moscow Discusses the Future Development of ICBMs,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 8 Issue 9, January 13, 2011, available at[tt_ news]=37354&cHash=2df1c6d9cbd disarmament.

[25] Pavel Podvig, “Bulava has six warheads,” Russian, April 3, 2006, available at /blog/2006/04/bulavahassixwarheads.shtml.: “The might of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, TASS, January 9. 2018, available at

[26] “Russian Federation MOU Data,” (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of State, January 1, 2007).: and “U.S. MOU Data,” (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of State, January 1, 2007).

[27] “Russia to use same warheads on land, sea,” UPI NewsTrack, April 24, 2006. (Transcribed by World News Connection.)

[28] Ilya Kramnik, “Nevsky and Novomoskovsk: Two Submarines for Putin,” Sputnik News, December 12, 2010,

available at “Russian pundit Litovkin argues case of Bulava,” Ekho Moskvy Radio, July 17, 2009. (Translated by World News Connection).; “Section II: Minimum Deterrence: Fragile Hope of a Constant and Benign Threat Environment,” (Fairfax Va.: National Institute for Public Policy, September 14, 2014), p. 21, available at %20Room/Other/Litigation%20Release%20-%20Section%20II%20Minimum%20Deterrence%20Fragile%20 Hope.pdf.; “New warheads for Russian missiles,” Voice of Russia, December 22, 2010, available at http://english ruvrru/2010/12/20/37280236 html.

[29] Nikita Petrov, “Robert Gates shows nuclear impatience,” RIA Novosti, November 11, 2008, available at http://

[30] “Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces as its decisive defense,” op. cit.

[31] “Russia successfully tests latest ‘YARS’ intercontinental ballistic missile,” R.T., December 24, 2013, available at

[32] “Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces as its decisive defense,” op. cit.

[33] “RS-24 Yars Intercontinental ballistic missile,”, no date, available at “New Nuclear Triad: A Look Into the Future of Russia’s Strategic Defenses,” Sputnik News, July 22, 2018, available at

[34] "Doomsday Weapon: Russia's New Missile Shocks and Dazzles U.S., China," Sputnik News, March 9, 2016, available at “Russia’s armament plan through 2027,” TASS, March 22, 2018, available at

[35] Pavel Felgenhauer, “Bomber Makers Trade Union,” The Moscow Times, March 14, 2002, available at http://www

[36] Quoted in Mark B. Schneider, The Nuclear Forces and Doctrine of the Russian Federation, (Fairfax Va.: National Institute Press, 2006), p. 22, available at 20Archive% 20PDF/Russian%20nuclear%20doctrine%20--%20NSF%20for%20print.pdf.

[37] Joshua Nevett, “Russia beefs up firepower with new nukes ‘capable of hitting anywhere in the world’,” London Daily Star (on Line), May 18, 2018, available at /docview/1899986199/fulltext/170B0808E8030761005/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=170B0808E8030761005/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_1714aff5f4f.: “Russian RS-24 missiles to go on duty in December - commander of RVSN,” ITAR TASS, March 17, 2009, available at

[38] “Russian expert views dispute over developing solid or liquid propellant missile,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, April 21, 2011, available at 862831822/fulltext/17087516528 6D0B550C/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=17087516 5286D0B550C/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneidtransactionalZone17121d03abb.

[39] Viktor Litovkin, “Sergei Ivanov visits Novaya Zemlya nuclear testing site,” Ria Novosti, July 26, 2006, available at

[40] “Defence Ministry Board meeting,”, December 24, 2019, available at president/news/62401.

[41] “New Warhead for Russian Missile?,” Military photo’, December 27, 2010, available at http://www.military “New warheads for Russian missiles,” op. cit.

[42]  “New Russian Nuke Can Penetrate Missile Defense Systems,” Common Sense Blog, January 30, 2011, available at

[43] "The ultimate warhead puts an end to discussions," RT, January 27, 2011, available

[44] Pavel Podvig, “Yars launch in September tested parallel deployment of warheads,” Russian, October 4, 2017, available at

[45]  "Yars autonomous launchers of parade mechanized column return to the Teykovo missile formation," Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, May 10, 2018, available at id=12174921@egNews.: “Regiment with new Yars-S missile systems to enter combat duty in Barnaul,” Interfax, October 18, 2019, available at 2306478453/fulltext/170919 C31F515073EF7/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=170919 C31F515073EF7/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=trans actionalZone_1712c1b051e.

[46] Pavel Podvig, “UR-100NUTTH launch from Dombarovskiy, most likely with Project 4202 payload,” Russian, October 25, 2016,

[47] Nikolai Litovkin, “3 Russian weapons systems that have no equivalents anywhere in the world,” Russia Beyond the Headlines, January 15, 2019, available at

[48] “Russia to use SS-19 ICBMs as carriers for Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles — source,” TASS, March 20, 2017, available at

[49] Pavel Podvig, “Avangard system is tested, said to be fully ready for deployment,”, December 24, 2018, available at

[50] Joe Gould, "U.S. nuclear general worries over Russia's weapons outside New START," Defense News, February 28, 2019, available at

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] “Formidable Sarmat: Satan’s successor that can pierce any defense,” TASS, October 25, 2016, available at http://

[54] “New Heavy ICBM to Be Put Into Service in 2018 - Expert (Part 2),” Interfax, May 5, 2011, available at http:// “Russia to build RS-20 ‘Voyevoda’ successor,” Interfax-AVN, July 21, 2011, available at http://

[55] Nikolai Litovkin, “What major weapons Russian military will get in 2018,” Russia Beyond the Headlines, January 19, 2018, available at “Sarmat ICBM: 8 Megatons at Hypersonic Speeds, Arriving 2 Years Ahead of Schedule,” Sputnik News, January 19, 2018, available at

[56] “Guaranteed defeat of enemy infrastructure: how the Sarmat ballistic missile will enhance the combat potential of the Strategic Missile Forces,” R.T., December 16, 2019, available at

[57] “Defence Industry; Russian army to receive Sarmat heavy strategic missile in2018 – source,” Interfax, September 9, 2016, available at /170915E2DDF1EF01BF8/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=170915E2DDF 1EF01BF8 /1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone1712bdd00c2.

[58] Franz-Stefan Gady, “Russia to Test Fire RS-28 Sarmat ICBM in Early 2019,” The Diplomat, October 3, 2018, available at

[59] “Explained: Why Russia Avangard missile will have US worried,” Indian Express, December 29, 2019, available at C7B052/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=16EBDD77AE466C7B052/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone16f58564568.

[60] Pavel Podvig, “Avangard begins combat duty,” Russian, December 27, 2019, available at http://

[61] Pavel Podvig, “How many warheads?,” Russian, May 27, 2007, available at blog/2007/05/howmanywarheads.shtml.

[62] “Section II: Minimum Deterrence: Fragile Hope of a Constant and Benign Threat Environment,” op. cit.

[63] Mark. B. Schneider, “Russia Nuclear Breakout and the New START Treaty,” Real Clear Defense, January 14, 2020, available at _treaty_114973.html.

[64] “Russia plans to finalize tests of new Sarmat ICBM in 2021 - National Defense Control Center (Part 2),” op. cit.

: “Russia to Finish Testing New Sarmat ICBM in 2021 – Military,” op. cit.; “Highlights of Russia's arms procurement programme for 2018-2027,” op. cit.

[65] START Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms Signed in Moscow July 31, 1991, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of State, October 1991), pp 150-163.

[66] Pavel Podvig, “Sarmat Tests to Begin in 2015,”, January 26, 2015, available at http://russian forces.o

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