Russia Deploys Six Topol-M Long-Range Missiles

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Russia Deploys Six Topol-M Long-Range Missiles

On December 26, Russia deployed six Topol-M missiles, four fewer than had been expected. Russia fielded 10 Topol-Ms in both 1998 and 1999, but its deployments have fallen well short of the goals set forth in an ambitious plan announced in 1998 by Vladimir Yakovlev, head of the Strategic Rocket Forces. Under the plan, Russia was to field 20-30 Topol-Ms each year for three years and 30-40 in each of the subsequent three years.

While funding shortfalls have likely contributed to the low number of deployed missiles, some analysts have suggested that this year's smaller than usual contingent indicates a policy shift toward favoring conventional over nuclear weapons. In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly decided that Russia would reduce its deployed nuclear arsenal and shift funds to conventional forces after a contentious Security Council meeting that had considered budget priorities. (See ACT, September 2000.)

The Topol-M, designated the SS-27 by NATO, is a three-stage, solid-fueled missile with a reported range in excess of 10,000 kilometers. …