- Russian Missiles’ Global Reach: Does Moscow Need Military Bases Abroad?
Throughout the 20th century, military analysts have considered military bases abroad to be an indicator of a state’s power and influence, demonstrating whether or not a country has the right to call itself a great power. Recently, with advances in military technology, Russian politicians and the military have begun questioning this logic.
In its own analysis on the issue, Russian news and analysis website Zvezda.ru ponders whether today’s Russia has a need for military bases in the ‘near abroad’ (i.e. the former Soviet Union) and elsewhere around the world.
“Recently,” Zvezda recalled, “President Vladimir Putin expressed his position on this issue.” Speaking at the traditional year-end press conference on December 17, 2015, Putin “questioned the need for the permanent deployment of Russian troops in Syria. According to the Russian leader, thanks to modern weapons, our country can ‘reach’ anyone, anywhere.”
Specifically, Putin referred to the capabilities of the 1,500 km-range Kalibr-class sea-based cruise missile and the 4,500 km-range air-dropped Kh-101 cruise missile, which had recently been demonstrated targeting jihadi terrorists in Syria. “Why should we need a base there [in Syria]? Should we need to reach somebody, we can do so without a base,” the president said, responding to a question about whether Russia would be deploying troops in the Middle Eastern country permanently.
“Why then, is the United States, which has in its arsenal weapons that are just as advanced, in no hurry to reduce its military presence in the world?” Zvezda asks. The answer, the news site suggests, is that most of the US’s 730 military bases worldwide are tasked not with defense, but with serving as “a unique form of colonization via the projection of power and military might on foreign territory.”