Valery Gerasimov: Russia Has the Means to Respond to Challenges

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and First Deputy Defense Minister of the Army General Valery Gerasimov summarised the activities of the Ministry of Defence in 2018.

The National Defense Management Center of the Russian Federation hosted an annual briefing for the military attachés of foreign states. It raised issues concerning the peculiarities of the military-political situation on the planet, the situation in Syria, the Armed Forces, and many other topics related to the security of the Russian Federation.

Tension continues unabated

The current international situation, as the General of the army Valery Gerasimov noted, is characterised by a further increase in the potential of conflicts arising in relations between major “centers of power”. The scale of international terrorism and radical extremism is expanding, crisis phenomena in the global economy is spreading, and the fight for energy, water, food, and other resources is intensifying.

“One of the main destructive factors that is complicating the international situation is the US, which aims to preserve its dominant role in the world and the exclusion of other countries from the competition”

said the Army General Gerasimov

“This is precisely why Washington and its allies are adopting comprehensive and concerted measures to contain Russia and discredit its role in international affairs”

said the head of the Russian General staff

In response to the alleged growing threat from Russia, the military presence of NATO is increasing near our borders. In Eastern European States the number of units of forces of primary engagement is increasing, anti-missile defense elements are being built, advanced airfields are being developed, the logistics of cross-border military transport is improving,  and a system of advanced storage of weapons and equipment is being created.

“In these conditions we have taken all the necessary counter measures to ensure the military security of the state. However, we are not increasing the size of the Armed Forces or involving ourselves in a ruinous arms race”

said the General of the army Gerasimov

For comparison: the US military budget is almost 14-fold bigger than Russia’s. In the 2019 financial year in the United States it was more than 716 billion, which exceeds the military spending of all other countries of the world.

Giving ultimatums is unacceptable

The US’ position against the INF Treaty is in the spotlight today. The General of the army Gerasimov focused on this problem is in his speech.

“The situation in the sphere of arms control has become much more complex in connection with the statement of the President of the US about his intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty. We regard this as a very dangerous step that can adversely affect not only European security, but also strategic stability as a whole”

said the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

According to him, if the US cancels and withdraws from the INF Treaty, those countries that are hosting US missiles will be the potential targets of Russia’s retaliation. Moscow is ready to accept the “missile” challenge of Washington. The US’ steps in this direction will not go unanswered. At the same time, Russia continues to fulfil its international obligations in the sphere of arms control and disarmament.

“Once the deadline of the START Treaty arrived (February 5th 2018) we fully complied with our obligations to reduce strategic offensive weapons. Unfortunately, our American partners, seeking to achieve the quantitative parameters set by the treaty, have been converting a part of their strategic offensive assets (4 launchers on each of the 14 “Ohio”-class submarines and 41 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress) and unilaterally excluded them from list under the Treaty. This enables them to promptly build up the potential of their strategic offensive forces and to increase the number of warheads by more than 1,200 units. We hope that the United States will take a balanced and constructive approach towards solving the problem and will restart dialogue on renewing the START-3 Treaty”

said the General of the army Gerasimov.

Who prevents the Syrian problem from being solved?

The chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation focused the attention of the military attache on the fact that currently international extremist and terrorist organisations operating primarily in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia pose a real threat to peace. The main front of the fight against them is taking place today in Syria, where government forces supported by the Russian Air Force managed to defeat the largest group in the Middle East – ISIS.

Against the general background of the situation in Syria stabilising there remains a number of unresolved issues, primarily related to the illegitimate presence of US military bases on the territory of Syria.

“Let’s take Al-Tanf, for example. The US established the so-called 55-km security zone around this community, and illegal armed groups continue their terrorist activity under its cover, making periodic sorties against the government forces”

 said Gerasimov

In the same area there is the largest refugee camp “Rukban”, in which more than 50,000 refugees live in very difficult conditions.

“We proposed to eliminate this zone and establish joint Russian-American control over the border crossing, but our American partners left our suggestions with no response”

stated the General of the army Gerasimov

While on the East Bank of the Euphrates river, the US is trying to create a quasi-public formation that is independent of the central government, supporting the separatist Kurds with weapons supplies.

“The US is constantly talking to us about some sort of combat against ISIS in Eastern Syria. But we see the opposite. ‘Sleeper’ terrorist cells moved to action, resulting in ISIS starting to expand its zone of influence in the East of the country”

said the Chief of Staff

In the opinion of the Chief of Staff, the situation in Raqqa still remains critical. A year has passed since the bombing of the US-led coalition, and the city has been virtually wiped off the face of the earth. The city still hasn’t been cleared of mines. The reconstruction of housing and infrastructure is not carried out.

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About the Armed Forces Of Russia

As the General of the army Valery Gerasimov said, the main effort in solving planning problems in 2018 was focused on keeping the strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces at a high level of combat readiness, on building a layered system of aerospace defense, as well as on improving training and management systems.

In the context of the development of the US’ global missile defense system, the combat capabilities of land-based strategic nuclear forces (SNF) has increased. They continued to re-equip them with modern “YARS” missile systems, equipped with a highly effective means of combatting missile defense. Russia’s industrial enterprises started to mass produce the “Avangard” missile system, equipped with a winged manoeuvring block. A system with the heavy intercontinental ballistic missile “Sarmat” is being created to replace the most powerful missile system in service with the strategic nuclear forces “Voevoda”. Test launches of this missile were successfully conducted this year.

As for the naval strategic nuclear forces, General Gerasimov told military attaches that the continuous combat duty of strategic missile submarines has been ensured. They carry out periodic patrols, including under the Arctic ice. The further development of naval strategic nuclear forces is envisaged through the construction of “Borey-A” class submarines, equipped with ballistic missiles that are able to combat missile defenses.

Speaking about the potential of the aviation strategic nuclear forces, the Russian military commander said that he was encouraged by the modernisation of the Tu-160 and Tu-95MS via the installation of more powerful engines, modern avionics, as well as via broadening the range of the used weapons.

The aerospace defense of the country is systematically being developed to guarantee the defence of the territory of the Russian Federation from an aerospace attack. Increasing the ability to detect attacking ballistic missiles is being carried out by increasing the air and ground level missile attack warning system.

The creation of a continuous radar field along the borders of the Russian Federation has been completed. As a result the detection of ballistic missiles from all missile-threat directions and all types of their flight trajectories is guaranteed.

This year aviation units and formations have received more than 140 modern aircraft. The combat use of the precision-guided hypersonic aircraft missile system “Kinzhal” is being improved. The upgrading of anti-aircraft missile regiments with the modern s-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which has enhanced capabilities of intercepting air targets, is ongoing. Currently more than 20 regiments armed with this system are on combat duty in air defenses.

According to the Chief of the General Staff, the development of the general purpose forces remains a priority. Special attention is given to enhancing the strike capabilities, manoeuvrability, and autonomy of combat units.

In general, the implementation of the state defense order this year made it possible to fully equip more than 30 different military units, while the proportion of modern weapons in the Armed Forces amounted to 61.5%. By the end of 2020 this figure will be increased to 70%.

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The professional is at the forefront

Speaking about staffing level of troops by manpower,  General Gerasimov stressed to his audience that work on maintaining it at 95-100% was continued in 2018.

“The number of military personnel serving under contract reached 384,000. This has led to a noticeable qualitative growth of the combat capabilities of units”

said the Chief of Staff

The transition to a new system of staffing military units with personnel on contract, as well as units of naval infantry and airborne troops, allowed to have in their composition the required number of battalion tactical groups, ready to immediately start the fulfilment of tasks. It is planned to further increase the number of contract servicemen.

Army General Gerasimov said that one of the priorities in the activities of the Armed Forces is improving the training of troops (forces).

“At the same time, we not only introduce the experience of the participation of Russian servicemen in the fight against terrorism in Syria, which has undoubtedly become an excellent school of improving the professional skill of our officers. First and foremost we teach our troops to fight against a high-tech enemy equipped with modern weapons, and which uses all types of intelligence and radio-electronic influence and the massive use of aviation and high-precision weapons”

said the Chief of Staff

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