On February 10, 1999 The Washington Post published two articles by David Hoffman discussing the status of Russian Early Warning (EW) system. In particular, the author of the publications quoted Pavel Podvig, Research Associate with our Center. "...The system now has only three active satellites ...Every 24 hours, the high elliptical satellite system is blind during two periods; one is nearly six hours long, the other about an hour long..." - Pavel Podvig said in an interview.
The publications in The Washington Post attracted considerable attention.
State Department spokesman James Rubin told a news conference that it would be difficult to assess the current situation over Russia's missile defense system because of its classified nature. "...Nevertheless, it's fair to say that we are concerned about the potential deterioration of Russia's ballistic missile attack warning capabilities without referencing any specific systems,..." Rubin said.
Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, the Head of the 4-th Central Research Institute of the Defense Ministry gave some comments on the Post's publication in an interview to the Russian NTV (a TV company). However, he refused to talk about the current status of the Russian EW system. "...I am unable to speak or confirm how many hours we can or can not watch, because this matter is a state secret. Regardless of what I'll say, if these figures are good or not - I'll have to give my next interview being in jail somewhere in Siberia..." (NTV News, 22:00, February 10, 1999)
The comments by Pavel Podvig to David Hoffman were quoted by Fort Worth Star-Telegram (February 14), Florida Times-Union, (February 11), Times Union (February 10), Cincinnati Enquirer (February 10) and other U.S. newspapers. Russian Novyye Izvestiya (February 11) and Rossiiskiye Vesti (February 17) have also responded.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta (February 13) published comments from Russian officials: "...Sources in the Russian Ministry of Defense do not deny the fact that lack of financing decreases potential to launch military satellites...However, they completely reject the blames of (EW system - E.M.) "blindness". They also think, that such claims were financially supported by proponents of prompt deployment of U.S. national missile defenses...".
"...Unfortunately, there is an inaccuracy in David Hoffman's article...Russian Early Warning system has a capability continuously control the areas, where the U.S. can potentially launch ballistic missiles..." - Pavel Podvig asserts: "...though some facts do provide the basis to conclude, that Russian EW system is obliged to function not in a complete constellation, the conclusion, that it is on the verge of collapse, is not justified..." (Comment by Pavel Podvig, - in Russian, February 18, 1999)
In the end of June, 1999 Novyye Izvestiya daily published an article which increases concerns on the state of Russian early warning system: The "dead time" in observation is nearly 9 (!) hours a day. This period of time when satellite system is blind shifts depending on season of the year. In particular our military do not see the U.S. ICBM bases during the day, but in winter they'll be able to monitor the bases at nights...The system now has only three active satellites. Nobody knows about how long they'll be able to operate in future... The latest EW satellite was launched in 1997. The guaranteed service life of these satellites is three years only...".
"...Currently, Russia is totally blind to a Trident attack from the Atlantic and Pacific, and, for all practical purposes, it is equally blind to a Minuteman or MX [missile] attack from the continental United States,..." concluded three specialists, writing recently in Spectrum, the bulletin of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: False alarm, nuclear danger, (by Geoffrey Forden, Pavel Podvig and Theodore A. Postol, IEEE Spectrum, March 2000, V37, Number 3.)
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Articles in The Washington Post, February 10, 1999
- Russia's Missile Defenses Eroding Gaps in Early-Warning Satellite Coverage Raise Risk of Launch Error (by David Hoffman, The Washington Post, Wednesday, February 10, 1999; Page A01)
- 'I Had A Funny Feeling In My Gut'. Soviet Officer Faced Nuclear Armageddon (by David Hoffman, The Washington Post, Wednesday, February 10, 1999; Page A19)
Press Responses to David Hoffman's articles
- Russian Question, -in Russian, (Rossiiskiye Vesti, February 17, 1999 г.)
- The U.S. Creates National Missile Defenses, (by Vadim Solovyov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 13, 1999, p. 2)
- Russia As a Blind Cyclops -in Russian (by Alexander Korzun, Novyye Izvestiya, February 11, 1999, p. 2)
- U.S. Worried About Russian Early-Warning System, (by Reuters, Russia Today, February 11, 1999)
- Russia Warning System Concerns U.S, (By Barry Schweid, Associated Press, Wednesday, February 10, 1999; 4:35 p.m. EST)
- Report: Russian Missile Defense System Runs Risk of Error, (by Agence France Presse, Russia Today, February 10, 1999)
- US is concerned about potential deterioration of Russia's missile warning system, (U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Wednesday, February 10, 1999)
- The fire may be serious, but there is no reason for concern, (by Pavel Podvig, May 10, 2001):
- False alarm, nuclear danger, (by Geoffrey Forden, Pavel Podvig and Theodore A. Postol, IEEE Spectrum, March 2000, V37, Number 3.)
- A Comment by Pavel Podvig, (in Russian), February 18, 1999
- The Summary Report of the Conference The Future of Russian - U.S. Strategic Arms Reductions: START III and Beyond (Cambridge, MA, February 2-6, 1998). The meeting was jointly sponsored by the M.I.T. Security Studies Program and the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT.
- Strategic Defense, In Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons, (Ed. by Pavel Podvig, IzdAT, Moscow, 1998, pp. 344-387)
- Command and Control System and Its Current Status in the report Nuclear Arms Reduction. The Process and Problems (Ed. by A.S. Diakov, The Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT, Dolgoprudny, 1997)
- The Operational Status of the Russian Space Based Early Warning System, (by Paul Podvig, Science and Global Security, vol.4, 1994, pp.363-384)
- The Military Aspects of the Soviet Cosmonautics: A Side View, (by M.V. Tarasenko, М.: Nikol, 1992, 164 pages)
- Memorandum on establishing a permanent joint early-warning center in Moscow, - in Russian, June 4, 2000.
- Joint Statement on the Exchange of Information on Missile Launches and Early Warning (signed by President Yeltsin and President Clinton, Mosсоw, September 2, 1998)
Other related materials
- As a Blind Boxer, - in Russian, by Alexander Ovchinnikov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 18, 2002)
- Fire Shuts Down Russian Early-Warning System, (by Philipp C. Bleek, Arms Control Today, June 2001)
- Guard Fell Asleep. On Orbit, - in Russian, (by Oleg Vladykin, Obschaya Gazeta, May 17, 2001)
- What Happened to the President's Nuclear Case? It Burned Out, - in Russian, (by Roman Shleynov, Novaya Gazeta, May 14, 2001)
- Reducing a Common Danger: Improving Russia's Early-Warning System, (by Geoffrey Forden, Cato Policy Analysis, No. 399 May 3, 2001) Status of the Radar at Gabala Remains Undefined, - in Russian, (by Igor Korotchenko, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 19, 2001)
- Everybody Will Monitor Missiles, - in Russian, (by Sergei Sokut and Pyotr Titov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 22, 2000)
- "Strategic Shield" Is Corroding, - in Russian, by Volter Kraskovski, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, November 17, 2000)
- "Volga" Will Block A Path to Missiles, - in Russian, (by Denis Voroshilov, Rossiya, November 1, 2000)
- Washington Can Not Wait till an Information From the Moscow Center Comes, - in Russian, (by Yuri Golotyuk, Vremya MN, October, 18, 2000)
- Clinton Wants To Share Secrets With Putin, - in Russian, (by Sergei Guly, Novyye Izvestia, June 2, 2000, p.3)
- 'Blind Spots' Fuel Russian Fears of U.S. Shield, (by David Hoffman, The Washington Post, Thursday, June 1, 2000; Page A01)
- A Glare, Burning America To Ashes, - in Russian, (by Vladimir Tyomny, Vesti.Ru, May 31, 2000)
- An All-seeing Eye Of Russia, - in Russian, (by Vladimir Morozov, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, N 14, April 14-20, 2000, p. 4)
- Russia's Missile Warning System Is Decaying, U.S. Says, (by Jonathan S. Landay, Miami Herald, January 9, 2000)
- Does Russia Have Eyes At Space?, - in Russian, (by Ilshat Baichurin and Alexandr Dolinin, Krasnaya Zvezda, October 8, 1999)
- Nuclear Russia Will Never Be Blind, (by Sergei Sokut, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG, N 32, August 20-26, 1999, p. 1, 6). See also: The Western Guard. Russian-Belorus Cooperation Helps To Close The Gap In The Nuclear Shield Of Our Country (by Sergei Sokut, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG, N 32, August 20-26, 1999, p.6), Russia to Patch Up its Nuclear Shield (by Sergey Sokut, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 4 Aug 1999, p. 2); Moscow Still to Look After American Missiles (by Sergey Golotiuk, Izvestia, 4 Aug 1999, p.3)
- The U.S. Is Almost Out Of Sight. Russian Space Intelligence Agents Become Agriculturists, - in Russian (by Maria Kudryavtseva, Novyye Izvestiya, June 29, 1999, pp. 1-2)
- Russia Is Going To Repeat the "Blind Boxer's" End, - in Russian, (by Igor Flore, Yadernaya Bezopasnost, May 1999)
- The Degradation of Russia's Early Warning System, the Proliferation Roundtable at the Carnegie Endowment on February 26, 1999
- Improving Russia's Access to Early-Warning Information: Preliminary Results, (Congressional Budget Office Study, September 3, 1998).
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