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  • Position : Chairman of the Executive Board
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If there is another such target, buried and well-fortified, maybe they will use it again

Evgeny Buzhinskiy

Interview with Evgeny Buzhinskiy, a retired Russian lieutenant-general, Ph.D. Military Sciences, chairman of the Executive Board of PIR Center, about the first combat use by Russia of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile at the ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.

 

For what purpose were the Kinzhal hypersonic systems used? Will it somehow affect the further development of the campaign?

From my point of view, firstly, there was a fairly buried ammunition depot in a mountainous area, built back in the Soviet Union times, and designed to withstand a medium-sized nuclear strike. I think they decided to just try to see if a hypersonic missile could break through this concrete – it did, so the goal was achieved. Well, the second purpose was just to show that it really exists, and it was really used for the first time in real combat. I think the information effect was strong enough. The Americans already knew that it existed, but it had not yet been used in combat conditions. However, I think this is an isolated case, given that the weapon is quite expensive. Therefore, they used it once, showed it, hit the target. If there is another such target, buried and well-fortified, maybe they will use it again. But this cannot be often. I would not say that it will somehow affect the further development of the campaign. I do not think it will have any serious effect.

Should we perceive this as the next escalation stage before the use of nuclear weapons, as Western analysts say, or, on the contrary, hypersonic weapons are used for greater accuracy and fewer civilian casualties?

No, this is not an escalation, and there will be no use of nuclear weapons, these are all fantasies. To use nuclear weapons against whom? Against the Ukrainians – it is pointless. If you are at war with NATO, then it is a war with the United States. It is impossible to control such a conflict, it is a utopia. All this will end in mutual destruction. I do not think that anyone is interested in this, although the Americans do not get tired of repeating this, and we too – from time to time, as a warning. Here, Putin put on high alert – and what is this, a high alert? Well, the composition of the duty shifts was reinforced by the respective commanders, and that was it.

Hypersonic weapons are one of the latest developments in defense and security policy, which provokes a new round in the arms race. Does Russia need such a race today, if modern international conflicts are increasingly turning into an economic plane?

This does not provoke a new round of the arms race; it is just a normal evolution. The Americans are working, we are working, the Chinese are working, well, everyone is working on new hypersonic weapons. This, in fact, is one of the stages in the development of missile attack weapons. That is all, nothing unusual or extraordinary here. As I said, this weapon is quite expensive. Moreover, it presupposes the presence of a carrier. We have this MiG-31, which can fly up to 2000 km, and then launch the Kinzhal also at 2000 km, i.e., without entering the air defense coverage area it is possible to hit objects on the continental part of our potential enemy partner. For this, the Americans are adapting various SLBMs, ICBMs like the Polaris type, which have been withdrawn from service.

Is there any chance that there will be as much interest in hypersonic weapons as there is in nuclear weapons in the next decade? And is it possible to conclude treaties to ban it?

Naturally, these weapons are already being worked on. We already have it in service. The Chinese are closed, so there is no information about whether they adopted it or not, but the Americans admit that they are already overtaken. As for the treaties, theoretically everything is possible, but I do not think so. The Americans are now raising the question of including the above-mentioned Kinzhal, but only if it is nuclear-armed. In our country, all new missiles, including the Kinzhal, as a rule can be both in the usual and in the nuclear version. As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the Americans will raise the issue so that hypersonic weapons are included in the next treaty. While Americans do not have them, it is pointless to talk about it, because the next iteration of the INF Treaty, when they changed the real grouping to their deployment plans, I think we will not make such a mistake a second time. When they have something like that, then it will be possible to talk about the restriction, and unilaterally – we are unlikely to agree to restrict it.

Is there a threat of unauthorized launch/attack with hypersonic weapons?

No. Firstly, this is not the way to talk about “some kind of unauthorized launch”, especially since they need a third-party carrier. If they are used at short range, it is possible to launch from the launcher, of course. But even if there is “some kind of unauthorized launch” of a hypersonic missile, the damage from it will follow, but not a fatal one.


Imprint:

The interview was conducted by Egor Chobanian, Information & Publications Program Coordinator, on April 4, 2022

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