The big parade organized on May 9, 2016 to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the USSR victory in the Great Patriotic War – as the Soviet struggle against Nazi invaders was called – was an opportunity for Russia to display its new or recent Russian weapons and, above all, to understand their strategic use.
10,000 soldiers, 135 units of military hardware and 71 aircraft paraded.
An evident show of strength and a clear, but hidden, threat to the Russian Federation’s enemies.
There was, at first, the Yars RS 24 long-range nuclear missile (the one that NATO currently calls SS 27 Mod.2), a MIRV system (that may contain multiple independent warheads, probably ten in this case) which is deployed in a regiment consisting of three battalions.
A missile needed to ward off the United States and its allies from the traditional areas of interest for the Russian Federation, such as Ukraine or the Western border following the Cold War.
But also needed to make it difficult to manage any anti-Russian tensions in the Middle East, in Central Asia and in the peripheral seas.
Many years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski had already assumed that Ukraine was basically close to the West and, therefore, it would become an unacceptable vulnus for Southern Russian security.
All the Russian weapons showcased in the parade are powerful weapons for strategic deterrence, which will enable Russia to have a “free hand” where the Westerners’ less heavy threats cannot arrive.
Also the new National Guard security force, recently created by President Putin to combat terrorism and organized crime, paraded.
The National Guard, of which we have already spoken, is armed with the new AK74M assault rifle.
The parading tanks included also the new T-14 Armata battle tank, which has an unmanned remote control of the various guns and is now considered superior to the Leopard and Abrams 2 tanks – and this, too, is a clue.
Furthermore the T-14 tank is supposed to be shortly fully robotised.
Here the issue lies in making any escalation along the old Cold War borders dangerous.
The old aircraft which flew over the sky during the military parade were the solid Su-25, but also the new Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA was showcased, namely the 5th generation aircraft which is said to be superior to the F-22 and, above all, to the US F-35, which is still a generation 4++ aircraft.
The new Sukhoi aircraft features excellent stealth characteristics, high attack speed and radar equipment using original nanotechnologies.
Another aircraft displayed was the Tupolev Tu22M3, that NATO called backfire, which is operating optimally in Syria.
Two other missile systems were showcased, namely the S-400 and Pantsir.
The former, the S-400 “Triumph” (NATO code SA 21 Growler) is a new generation anti-aircraft/anti-missile SAM, already sold to China and Iran, which can simultaneously intercept 36 missiles and planes (indeed, 80 in the latest versions) flying at a speed of up to 17,000 kilometres.
The Pantsir S1 (NATO code SA Greyhound) is a combined system of surface-to-air missile launching and anti-aircraft artillery.
They are both already operating in Syria, especially in the Latakia base.
In his speech before the 71st military parade, President Putin called for an international system not based on opposing blocs, but overcoming the tendency – present in many Western countries – to resume the Cold War.
In other words, Vladimir Putin wants, at first, to dissuade Western countries from trying to split Eurasia which, in Russia’s opinion, should feature geopolitical continuity from Moscow up to most of the European peninsula and China, as well as geopolitical continuity between Europe and the great Central Asian Heartland, the area of the largest economic growth in the future.
Furthermore, Russia does not want US single supremacy at global level – a US supremacy that Russia wants to divide into new and different geopolitical areas: Japan, China, the Shi’ite region with Iran and Iraq, the large African areas, Latin America.
Furthermore, while the Americans adapt every area over which they have supremacy to the same uniform political and cultural model, the Russians plastically conform to the various economies, strategic threats and cultural patterns.
From this viewpoint, suffice to recall Russia’s actions in Syria.
All strategic areas already mentioned in which the Russian Federation wants to expand its power and, above all, to show for each of them a possible alternative to the US hegemonic policy.
Hence Russia thinks that, in the future, no country will be in a position to gain clear military superiority: in its opinion, security regards also economic, mass health and social order issues.
These are the factors that Russia can currently interpret as a direct threat to its stability and, above all, to its sovereignty.
In fact, Russian analysts were impressed by the initial effectiveness of the “colour revolutions” and the “democratic” ones in the Maghreb region.
Obviously the results have gradually proved to be disastrous, but the management of non-military techniques to destabilize a country, together with Gene Sharp’s old theories which were a study subject of study for the Muslim Brotherhood during Mubarak’s fall, are the focus of the current Russian strategic thinking.
These are the Russian themes to respond to non-military subversion: 1) to immediately avoid the “cultural contagion”; 2) to strengthen the national identity and, where possible, the Welfare State; 3) to steadily increase the level of the possible military threat; 4) to develop strategies designed to avoid hidden hostile actions against Russia on the financial or commodity markets – and this holds true also for China.
The economic and financial destabilization has been well studied by Russian analysts and even military superiority is needed to avoid it.
Moreover, there is also what I would call the identity strategy: the rejection of the ideological globalist mix designed to protect the Russian symbols, traditions and popular culture from the attack of the US pop culture.
This goal, too, is reached with the great military parades, the soldiers’ joyful and proud faces, as well as with a credible strategic threat.
Moreover, Russian strategic thinkers know all too well that the modern strategy is full spectrum and regards the economy, the political and cultural stability and the technological evolution at the same time.
The reason why Russia maintains a superpower’s military structure, with some technologies largely superior to its competitors’, is that President Putin wants to make the whole new Russian hegemony to be inferred from military power.
This is the primary theme raised by Russia against NATO’s enlargement: Russia is opposed to it and it is even ready to block it, as happened with Ukraine and Crimea, as well as with the network of NATO radar stations surrounding the Russian Federation, from Poland up to Romania.
Any limitation to the Russian autonomy and sovereignty will always be fiercely opposed, at first with non-military actions, and later even with surgical military strikes.
The US analysts’ idea of repeating the old Cold War game, in the current strategic imbalance situation, unfavourable to the United States, will be the harbinger of many difficulties for the Americans.
Giancarlo Elia Valori * (@GEliaValori)
* Presidente della merchant bank “La centrale Finanziaria Generale S.p.A.”
– Presidente della “Cattedra sugli studi della pace, la sicurezza e lo sviluppo internazionale presso la Facoltà di relazioni internazionali della Peking University, nonché “professore straordinario” di economia e politica internazionale nello stesso Ateneo
– Honorable dell’Académie des Sciences dell’Institut de France