What US is really worried about: Russia's 'kill chain'

RUSSIA'S military "kill chain", nuclear arsenal and a network of secret tunnels beneath Moscow are among the military assets exposed in a US assessment of Russian power, ahead of a key meeting between presidents Putin and Trump.

The US Defence Intelligence Agency's recently published Russia Military Power is the first of five reports into what the US regards as "no fail" issues including China, Iran, North Korean and transnational terrorism.

Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said the US "cannot afford to misunderstand" Russian intentions given recent activity in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.

"Russia continues to modernise its extensive nuclear forces and is developing long range precision-guided conventional weapons systems," he said. "Its ultimate deterrent is a robust nuclear force capable of conducting a massed nuclear strike on targets in the United States within minutes.

"Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge. The United States needs to anticipate, rather than react, to Russian actions and pursue a greater awareness of Russian goals and capabilities to prevent potential conflicts."The assessment describes a vast military power working hard to modernise to respond to "snap" conflicts and reassert its position of global influence in a "multipolar" world.

It describes the Kremlin as "convinced" the US wants to orchestrate regime change in Russia and accuses the country of "actively co-operating" with China to weaken US influence in the world.

The assessment of Russia's nuclear arsenal, air force and navy states Russia has more than doubled military spending from A$35 billion to A$80 billion between 2006 and 2016. This includes a huge cyber network of pro-state media, trolls, bots and hacktivists to destabilise and discredit NATO and other western powers Russia views as a threat.

Russia’s ‘Kill Chain’ as described by the US Defence Intelligence Agency. Source: DIA.Source:Supplied
Russia’s ‘Kill Chain’ as described by the US Defence Intelligence Agency. Source: DIA.Source:Supplied


The report also shows the military "kill chain" that runs from indication and warning to detection, tracking and engagement. A vast network of underground bunkers, tunnels and secret subway lines beneath Moscow to allow the leadership to remain connected in the event of a war or nuclear strike is also described.

"A deep underground facility at the Kremlin and an enormous underground leadership bunker adjacent to Moscow State University are intended for the National Command Authority in wartime. They are estimated to be 200-300 meters deep and can accommodate an estimated 10,000 people," the report states.

"The leadership can remain beneath Moscow or travel along the special subway lines that connect these urban facilities to their preferred deep underground command posts outside the city, and possibly to the VIP terminal at Vnukovo Airfield, 27 kilometres south-west of the Kremlin. Two of the most important underground complexes for the National Command."

The report comes ahead of a critical first meeting between US President Trump and President Putin in Germany this week, after tensions reached their lowest point in decades with former President Obama.

President Trump has previously expressed hope the US could improve relations with Russia, however the meeting is now under the cloud of investigation after alleged collusion between White House aides and the Russian government.

Russia's most recent National Security Strategy has accused the US and NATO of pursuing a "policy of containment" following conflict over Syria, Crimea and Ukraine that has exerted political and economic pressure on Russia.

It blamed the emergence of the Islamic State on "double standards" from countries in the fight against terrorism, and said the build-up of NATO troops on Russia's borders is forcing the country to respond by improving military capacity.

On Tuesday, Russian President Putin met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow to discuss the North Korean threat and sign billions of dollars in trade deals.

Arriving in Moscow, President Xi said China and Russia's relationship was at the "best time in history" and said the two were "good neighbours, faithful friends and reliable partners".