In a high-profile meeting held at the Kremlin on 11 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the completion of a strategic command post, possibly a deeply buried underground bunker, according to The Warzone.
It said the Kremlin has released a transcript of a meeting between Putin and senior defense and other government officials, as well as representatives of Russia’s defense industries, regarding the modernization of the country’s nuclear command and control infrastructure.
Putin has announced that Russia has made serious progress in the implementation of its strategic forces control systems. The reports in Russian media suggest that the launcher is inaccessible to the enemy, and is capable of withstanding a nuclear strike. It has also been suggested that the control center itself is completely outside Russia.
In presence of Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Russian Army General Valery Gerasimov, Putin said that “a lot ” depends on the “survivability” of the nuclear force’s control systems and their ability to maintain a working condition in combat conditions.
The President has also discussed the country’s general nuclear deterrence policy, indicating that he would only authorize a nuclear strike in response to one against Russia, more like a “no-first-use policy”.
Putin sought assurance over three matters – first, the need for constant exercises and other events to make sure command and control systems are working as intended and that the people trusted with running them know how to properly operate them.
Secondly, modernize the country’s nuclear command and control architecture and a need to ensure the survivability of the country’s nuclear command and control infrastructure. “We are aware that a lot depends on the survivability of these systems and their ability to continue operating in a combat environment,” he said.
“They have told me that the creation of an absolutely secure facility for controlling strategic nuclear forces, among others is nearing completion, and that it will have a very high safety margin,” Putin reportedly said at the meeting.
Russia has two sites that would match this general description, one at Kosvinsky Kamen in the Northern Ural Mountains and another under Mount Yamantau in the Southern Ural Mountains. His remarks about the need to protect the overall command and control infrastructure against any threats, including a nuclear attack, point to a site that is a deeply buried underground bunker of some kind.
While there is no place on earth that can survive nuclear strikes, the erstwhile Soviet Union and the United States both invested heavily during the Cold War era in making such deeply buried sites or bunker complexes.
Till 1996, the construction of Kosvinsky Kamen was not finished but Bruce Blair, who had previously served as an ICBM launch control officer and had worked on communications issues regarding strategic nuclear forces as part of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, wrote in The Washington Post in 2003, “Kosvinsky restores Russia’s confidence in its ability to carry out a retaliatory strike.”
“Kosvinsky is regarded by US targeteers as the crown jewel of the Russian wartime nuclear command system because it can communicate through the granite mountain to far-flung Russian strategic forces using very-low-frequency (VLF) radio signals that can burn through a nuclear war environment,” Blair wrote.