Russia’s biggest nuclear deterrent is a system that guarantees a reciprocal nuclear strike, even in the event of total destruction of lines of command and communication and the death of key people. It is known in Russia as ‘Perimeter’.
Significance for peacekeeping : Russia’s main nuclear deterrent is a system that guarantees a return nuclear strike, even in the event of total destruction of lines of command and communication and the death of key people. The existence of such a system is sometimes accused of being immoral, but it is essentially the only means of real deterrence, since it guarantees a devastating nuclear attack.
What it is for : It is a massive nuclear retaliation automatic control system developed in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Designed to send orders from the military high command to all the command posts of the troops that have nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear attack during which the communication networks could be destroyed.
Concept : Perimeter is an alternative command system for all units that have nuclear warheads. It was developed as a ‘back-up’ communication system in the event of an eventual nuclear attack and in case key members of the Kazbek Strategic Missile Troop command system remained, as envisioned by the US concept of Limited Nuclear Warfare, or the current concept of Immediate Global Attack.
In order to guarantee the fulfillment of its function, the system was originally designed as completely automatic, in such a way that in the event of a massive attack it would be able to make a decision on the appropriate retaliation on its own, without the participation (or a participation minimal) human.
Commissioning date : 1985.
The system was developed in the USSR and put into service in 1985 following the appearance in the US of the concept of ‘Limited Nuclear War’, which provided for attacks against the most important targets: launch bases, airfields , large transport hubs and industries. The result of this devastating attack was to be the destruction of the enemy’s military and political command centers, preventing anyone from making the decision to carry out a response attack.
Guaranteed revenge: How does the Perímetr system work?
The spearhead of the system is ballistic missiles, but these missiles are not launched against an aggressor, but fly over different parts of Russia. Its warheads do not carry thermonuclear charges, but rather powerful transmitters that emit control signals to ballistic missile systems with nuclear warheads, whether they are installed in silos, aircraft, submarines, or land-based mobile systems. The system is fully automated and the human factor in its work is excluded or minimized.
The system’s main control element over all of the country’s strategic missiles is called ‘Kazbek’, which is known for its communication subsystem, Cheguet, often called the ‘nuclear briefcase’.
In times of peace, the main components of the Perímetr system are on guard duty. They assess the situation and process the data they receive from the monitoring posts. In the event of a large-scale attack with nuclear weapons, confirmed by data from the missile attack early warning system, the entire system automatically switches to combat mode. If after a certain time the Perímetr does not receive the signal to launch the missiles (for example, if members of the military and political command die), the system will make the decision itself.
The system receives information from a large number of sensors, analyzes the intensity of communication exchanges in the military leadership and telemetry from the strategic missile troop posts. But in addition, the Perímetr still has a unique ability: the system can analyze the changes in the political and military situation in the world, assess the commands that appear in a certain period of time and, in case of force majeure, draw a conclusion about what happens in the world and know if something is wrong.
The four conditions for ‘Armageddon’
Before launching the response attack algorithm, the Perimeter must meet four conditions. The first thing he checks is the veracity of a nuclear attack against Russia. Then check the existence of communication with the General Staff. If the Military Command does not respond, the Perimeter sends a signal to the Kazbek (‘nuclear briefcase’). If the ‘Kazbek’ answers, the system delegates decision-making power to the highest-ranking officer at the command post. And only in the event that it receives the order from the latter, or if it does not receive any kind of communication, it begins to act.
However, there are times when the system can act without resorting to the highest military command in the country. By discovering, for example, multiple point sources of intense and ionizing electromagnetic radiation and comparing them with data on earthquakes at locations with the same coordinates, the system concludes that it is a large-scale nuclear attack. In this case the Perimeter can give the attack signal even without the Kazbek’s authorization.
NATO describes as “immoral” a nuclear attack system that acts independently of humans. However, the United States also has a similar mechanism, the Emergency Rocket Communications System.