Last month, Russia announced that it had successfully tested its Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. In an email interview, Dmitri Titoff, a Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy analyst, and Richard Weitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor, discussed Russia's ballistic missile modernization program.
WPR: What is the current state of Russia's ballistic missile arsenal?
Dmitri Titoff and Richard Weitz: Like their Soviet predecessors, Russian government leaders consider having a powerful arsenal of long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads their highest priority. Not only do they represent the core of Russia's nuclear deterrent against a direct attack, but they have come to symbolize Russia's superpower status due to weaknesses in Russia's conventional forces and other nonmilitary elements of national power. That said, the current state of the arsenal remains uncertain. Many of the Soviet-era systems are showing their age, while newer systems are either small in number or still under development. Russia's problem-plagued Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile has performed well in recent tests, but claimed successes in developing new land-based missiles with revolutionary capabilities have yet to be demonstrated.