Russian missile goes ‘bang’, but not in right place

It looks like the consensus in the world’s press is that Russia’s missile tests on Tuesday were a failure, although the Russian Navy is still coming out with (competing) explanations as to what really happened, as detailed in this UPI report…

Russian Navy sources later cited by the official RIA Novosti news agency and the private, but still respectful, Interfax agency said the missiles were never actually launched but the exercise was aborted through an automatic shutdown transmitted by satellite relay. Later, yet another conflicting explanation was floated: the launch was never intended to be “actual” but was only “a “virtual” or cybernetic test.

The military exercise continued today with a second high profile failure, as a missile veered off course and self-destructed.

Radio Free Europe has some interesting analysis, including these comments from Pavel Baev, an expert on the Russian military…

“The exercise, at least the naval part of it, was definitely designed to be a kind of closure on the whole Kursk affair, to make the point that this page is closed, that [Russia] is now in a new period, which would confirm Putin’s statement from last autumn, that the military reform is over and that [Russia] is now in the stage of a normal buildup of military forces,” Baev said.

However, being starved of funds has proved a far greater problem for the Navy to deal with than for the regular army…

“You can starve your army for a long time, and it still can fight. But as far as naval systems are concerned, try to do the same and they just fall apart. They are not very resilient to ‘starvation.’ And then, if you invest a little extra money here and there, you can probably clean the ships, you can probably buy some diesel fuel, so you can take them out to sea, but the risks that something could go wrong are just really beyond any rational calculation,” Baev said.

The scariest part of this problem, of course, is that the sections of the Russian military that can do serious damage by making a nuclear mistake are precisely those which require the largest amount of money to maintain.

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