Dienstag, 5. Juni 2007

Raketenspiele zu Lasten Europas

Am 29. Mai haben die russischen Streitkräfte zwei neue Raketensysteme getestet, die Kurzstreckenrakete R-500 und die Interkontinentalrakete RS-24:


Yesterday the Russian military announced the first successful test of the new RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple independently-targetable detachable warheads. The addition of this missile to Russia's arsenal could put the country back on an equal strategic footing with the United States, which is slated to have no fewer than 2,200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal by 2012. Moscow claims that the maneuverable warheads on the RS-24 will be capable of confounding the American missile defense system.

Representatives of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) announced yesterday that the test-stage warhead on the new RS-24 ICBM with independently-targetable multiple reentry vehicles had successfully obliterated the designated target area at the Kura weapons range in Kamchatka. "The launch of the prototype of [Russia's] new RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile took place at 14:20 Moscow time from the Plesetsk launch pad with a mobile launch apparatus that was specially reconfigured for the test," said the press service of the RVSN.
The Russian military announced its intention to begin production of ground-based ICBMs carrying multiple warheads, developed on the basis of the single-warhead Topol-M missile, after the withdrawal of the US from the ABM treaty in 2002 prompted Russia to reject the START II treaty. The agreement, which was signed in 1993, obliged both countries to eventually reduce their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to 3,500 warheads and to destroy all ground-based ICBMs with multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). This worked in favor of the US: the basis of the Russian nuclear shield was made up of ground-based missiles with six and ten warheads (the RS-18B and RS-20B/V, respectively).

In order to maintain its equal strategic footing with the US, Russia needed to sharply increase production of single-warhead ground-based Topol-M missiles while also accelerating work on the construction of new submarines and the creation of a new submarine-based missile (SLBM). However, neither of these goals were realized: from 1998 onwards, fewer than ten Topol-M ICBMs were added to the arsenal every year, not a single new submarine was built, and the new submarine-based Bulava missile has been plagued with misfortune (four out of five tests of Bulava SLBMs have ended in failure).

In 2002, Vladimir Putin and George Bush signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT, better known as the Moscow Treaty). The new treaty obliges the US and Russia to reduce the number of warheads deployed in their arsenals to 1,700-2,200, but, unlike START II, it sets no restrictions on the structure of each side's nuclear forces. This has allowed Russia to return to the development and production of missiles with MIRVs and to quickly and cheaply compensate for the removal of the RS-18B and RS-20B/V from the arsenal (the majority of these ageing rockets will be obsolete by 2010).
There were both legal and technical limitations on the addition of warheads to the Topol-M missile. First of all, the START I treaty, which is in force until December 2009, bans increases in the number of warheads on existing rockets (though not the development of new ones). Secondly, the throw-weight of a Topol-M missile (1.2 tons) is clearly insufficient for the rocket to be equipped with multiple warheads and individual navigation systems (the RS-18B, which carried six warheads, had a throw-weight of up to 4.35 tons, while the RS-20B/V, which could carry ten, had a throw-weight of around 8.5 tons).

Thus, Russia's best option was to create a modernized version of its ICBMs by thoroughly overhauling the Topol-M design to increase its payload capacity. Two successful tests of a new triple warhead took place in 2005-2006, but it was tested not on the new rockets but on the decommissioned Topol missile and the K65M-P missile, which was created in the 1970s especially for the testing of warheads. Now, however, the Russian armed forces have announced the successful test launch of a new rocket, which has been christened the RS-24.


Along with gaining equal ground with Washington, Moscow is counting on its new rockets to ensure that a Russian attack could successfully penetrate the US missile defense system, no matter how complex it becomes. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov declared yesterday that the RS-24 missile "is able to overcome any existing or, possibly, future missile defense system." Mr. Safranchuk of the WSI believes that the successful test of the RS-24 "can be regarded as one of the elements of the asymmetric response promised by Vladimir Putin after the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.""
Auch die Kurzstreckenrakete R-500, die nach 2009 eingeführt werden soll, wird wohl primär der Bekämpfung der geplanten Raketenabwehrbasen dienen, die seitens der russischen Regierung als Grund der Tests genannt werden. Nunmehr verfüge man über Waffen, die in der Lage seien, diese Abwehr zuverlässig zu überwinden.
Nachdem neben Tschechien, Polen und Georgien nun auch Litauen Komponenten der Raketenabwehr aufnehmen möchte und auch im pazifischen Raum über ein ähnliches System nachgedacht wird, hat die Debatte darüber eine Eigendynamik gewonnen, die von den Protagonisten der NMD kaum noch zu beherrschen ist. Während die einen auf dessen anti-iranischer Ausrichtung beharren, wird in Osteuropa bisweilen unverblümt zugegeben, daß es auch gegen Rußland gerichtet sei.
Der wie immer lesenswerte Power and Interest News Report betont in seiner Analyse des Vorgangs die Modernisierung des russischen Arsenals der strategischen Waffen und sieht die Empfänger dieser Botschaft vor allem in Washington und Peking:

On May 29, a prototype of Russia's new Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (I.C.B.M.), the RS-24, was fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch site in northwestern Russia. The missile landed on target 5,470 kilometers (3,400 miles) away on the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. The launch was not merely a test of yet another piece of military hardware; it also served as a message from Russia to the United States. The moves and counter-moves by the two powers have become less and less coherent as 2008 draws near because each side is looking past that year's election cycle in order to forge some kind of a coherent foreign and military policy directed at the other.

For Russia, the launch comes at a time when the country is attempting to reestablish itself as a strategic leader in the global military balance of power. Earlier, President Vladimir Putin was witness to a failed submarine launch of a new generation ballistic missile. Russia's chief concern is to prevent its missile and ballistic forces from being perceived as outdated by the rest of the world. Since a first-strike nuclear capability is enshrined in the new Russian defense policy in case of an attack on Russian territory, its forces must be capable of functioning at the highest level of competency. The May 29 launch, therefore, proves that the Russian military can and will field state-of-the-art weaponry in order to secure its place among top-tier countries like the United States. In the words of Putin, the I.C.B.M. test was "aimed at maintaining the balance of forces in the world."

Competency is critical in today's review of Russia's military strength since the Kremlin's conventional forces are still in the midst of a long and painful process of transition to a more modern force. While two wars in Chechnya have delivered a plethora of tactical lessons to the Russian military, such lessons cannot be applied fully to a force whose technology is still more than a decade behind the leading powers such as the United States. Furthermore, while state-of-the-art military hardware can be exported to potential customers, Russia lacks such weaponry for its own million-strong military force. The May 29 launch issued a potent message to the United States that Russia's strategic missile forces - the backbone of Soviet defenses during the Cold War - still matter.

Separately, the test delivered a strong message to China, albeit in a much more muted form. Hidden behind the veil of Moscow-Beijing cooperation is an intense competition for primacy between a once and future superpower.


To Moscow, the notion of an economically powerful China with a military in a better state of preparedness than Russia's is inconceivable. All of these factors demonstrate that the arms race that Putin implied in this week's conversations about U.S. intentions is actually a three-way race between the United States, Russia and China.

Auch Richard Weitz fokussiert sich auf die technische Seite und sieht die politische Botschaft in der Sicherstellung der nuklearen Abschreckung auch in der Zukunft:

In this context, the military's recent missile tests appear to have been a stop-gap measure designed to reassure Russian officials, as well as the Russian electorate during the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, that the Russian military can still deter a potential U.S. military attack on Russia. Ivanov, a leading candidate to succeed Putin, said the tests made evident that, "Russians need not worry about defense: they can look confidently to the future."
Putin and other Russian leaders have renounced any intent to match the U.S. military buildup missile-for-missile, expressing confidence that less costly asymmetric responses would prove adequate for maintaining the credibility of Russia's nuclear deterrent. Nonetheless, they still want to underscore to domestic and foreign audiences that Russia retains a formidable nuclear deterrent.

Was am Streit über den Aufbau der amerikanischen Raketenabwehr (gegen eine nicht existente Bedrohung) wie auch an den russischen Reaktionen darauf am meisten verwundern muß, ist der Befund, daß es in beiden Staaten nach wie vor als selbstverständlich angesehen wird, ein 'Gleichgewicht des Schreckens' zu erhalten:

But what is really ludicrous in Rice's words-- and in various Russian statements--is the notion that it's normal for Russia and the United States to base their relationship on nuclear deterrence.
It's even more unfortunate that this notion seems to be universally accepted. Most commentators act as if the Cold War is still ongoing and that the United States and Russia must preserve the capability to destroy each other.

This, of course, is nonsense. Even if we accept that during the Cold War the stakes were high enough to justify an immense nuclear buildup and live with the dangers that buildup entailed, no disagreement between the United States and Russia today would justify a nuclear exchange. The single most powerful incentive for maintaining a "strategic deterrent" anymore is the strategic deterrent itself--the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces are locked in a state of mutual dependence, each providing the rationale for the other's existence.

Seit 16 Jahren und der seitherigen positiven Entwicklung der Beziehungen zwischen beiden Seiten war man nicht in der Lage, sich aus der gegenseitigen Abhängigkeit zu befreien. Während dies für die beiden Flügelmächte Europas offenkundig kein großes Problem darstellt, hat Gerhard Mangott zutreffend darauf hingewiesen, daß Europa der Leidtragende dieses Denkens ist. Hierzulande werden jedoch die Reflexe aus dem Kalten Krieg reaktiviert und bedingungslose Gefolgschaft zum 'großen Bruder' eingeübt, während eigene Beiträge und Ideen für die gemeinsame Sicherheit Europas zu wenig Beachtung finden. Der einzige Sinn der Raketenabwehr scheint im Stiften politischer Verwirrung und Mißtrauens zu bestehen, denn einen militärischen Nutzen wird man von ihr kaum erwarten können (was die Apologeten dieses Systems freilich nicht anficht):

What Putin ought to realize - and what his nuclear specialists can tell him - is that the missile defense system Bush is deploying has a fatal flaw: Its sensors cannot discriminate between live warheads in space and easily contrived decoys. A system that doesn't work cannot be a threat to Russia, much less a shield against Iran. This is a system that has benefited only defense contractors and weakened only the American taxpayer."
Wir halten fest: Die USA wollen ein nicht funktionierendes Abwehrsystem gegen eine nicht vorhandene Bedrohung in Osteuropa stationieren. Das wiederum ist für Rußland ein willkommener Anlaß, um die ohnehin erforderliche Modernisierung seiner Kurz- und Langstreckenraketen zu rechtfertigen und das nicht funktionierende Abwehrsystem zum Ziel zu erklären. Und in Europa sucht man reflexhaft Schutz unter den Fittichen Washingtons.

Als Deutscher kann man bei dieser gesamten Darbietung nur verwundert den Kopf schütteln. Sowohl die USA als auch Rußland spielen ein strategisches Spiel, dem zu viele falsche Annahmen zugrundeliegen, und beiden scheint es egal zu sein. Daher ist aus europäischer Perspektive eine Äquidistanz nicht nur wünschenswert, sondern de facto bereits vorhanden; es sei denn, man ließe sich auf die von beiden ausgestreuten Legenden ein. Gerade den Deutschen sollten die letzten Monate auch klargemacht haben, daß die Welt im 21. Jahrhundert schwieriger ist, als das sie sich durch fromme Wünsche jedweder Art händeln ließe.
Vor allem fehlt es bezüglich der Raketenabwehr an einer nachvollziehbaren Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse aus europäischer Sicht: Welcher politische Schaden im Verhältnis zu Rußland ist hinnehmbar, um einen gewissen sicherheitspolitischen Nutzen zu erreichen? Da letzterer ziemlich gering ist, dürfte es kaum sinnvoll sein, die Beziehungen zu Rußland weiter zu beschädigen. Dies würde sich allerdings anders darstellen, wenn mit dem Raketenabwehrprojekt primär das politisches Kalkül verfolgt werden sollte, den amerikanischen Einfluß in der EU zu vergrößern, denn dann würde das Stiften von Verwirrung und das Zurückdrängen Rußlands Sinn machen. Es ist an Europa, dem eine eigene Politik entgegenzusetzen, um einen neuen Kalten Krieg zu verhindern, welcher Europa nur schaden könnte.
Foto: www.lenta.ru

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