FOI expert critical of Trump's tweet about Russian weapons testing
About twenty people have died in various Russian military casualties this summer, which are reportedly linked to the development of new weapons. FOI's expert Fredrik Westerlund says that one should be careful about drawing conclusions about the weapons in question. It doesn't get any easier when US President Donald Trump's tweeted claims that are not true facts, Westerlund believes.
During the summer, a series of military casualties occurred in Russia, resulting in at least 21 deaths and many more were injured. The incidents are reported to be linked to the development of new weapons in Russia
According to US President Donald Trump, one of the crashes should have occurred when Russia tested the cruise robot SSC-X-9 Skyfall, which Russia calls Burevestnik. He tweeted the task on Monday following an article in the New York Times.
"The United States is learning a lot from the robot explosion in Russia. We have similar, albeit more advanced technology. The Russian "Skyfall" explosion causes people to worry about the air around the plant, and far beyond it. Not good! ”Donald Trump wrote.Criticized by Swedish FOI
Fredrik Westerlund, a research leader at the Total Defense Research Institute (FOI) and expert on Russian military strategy and nuclear weapons, says that one should be careful about drawing such a conclusion as Trump does.
- There is too little information on what has been tested. We would need more information from Russia. What I see in the New York Times article is that they say they "suspect". It's not the same as knowing.
- They just said that it was a liquid-propelled rocket engine that exploded, and there is a plethora of liquid-propelled engines in the Russian arsenal. Of course, one can speculate, but there are still speculations.
Fredrik Westerlund, research leader at the Swedish Defense Research Institute (FOI). Photo: FOI
Fredrik Westerlund is also hesitant about certain tweets from the US president.
- I think in many respects you should take information from Trump with a pinch of salt. It appears that tweets from the US president are not always correct in fact, says Fredrik Westerlund."Dirty Weapon"
In July 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a video of what was alleged to be the robot "Burevestnik" on its Youtube channel, which SVT News reported. It was then stated that the weapon was not fully developed, but underwent tests.
Then it was stated that the cruise robot, with the capability of nuclear warheads, would have "an almost unlimited" range as it is powered by an atomic reactor when it flies. It should be very difficult to detect as it can fly at low altitude and attack from unexpected directions.
Fredrik Westerlund says there is no doubt that Russia is developing this weapon. But it is very uncertain how far the work has reached. He describes it as a "dirty weapon" and adds that all nuclear weapons are dirty.
- But this is even dirtier in that it is powered by an unshielded nuclear reactor.
- I have no idea to think this is a scam. Then the question is how far you have come in development and how far you have left. These are not simple things. My definite opinion is that the Russian side is greatly exaggerating how far it has progressed, for domestic and foreign policy reasons.
He also emphasizes that although the US intelligence service has an idea of what may have happened, the security of the conclusion may vary.
- It is the job of the intelligence service to have an opinion, but then it can have different degrees of confidence.
US President Donald Trump tweets about the Russian robot system Skyfall (Burevestnik). Photo: Twitter screenshot.
Donald Trump also wrote on Monday in his tweet that "we have similar, albeit more advanced technology". According to FOI's Fredrik Westerlund, that's not true if Trump thinks the cruise robot is powered by a nuclear reactor.
- If the suspicion is that it is a reactor-driven robot, then it is not true that the United States is in that respect.