Recent developments have raised concerns within the global community due to escalating political and military tensions in Southeast Asia. Attention has been drawn to the United States’ decision to station intermediate-range missiles in the Philippines, a location of strategic importance since the Cold War. Washington asserts that this deployment aims to counter China’s growing influence, a move that has garnered varied reactions from Russia.

A brief statement from the Russian Defense Ministry noted, “The Pentagon has positioned missiles in the Philippines, where the two countries are currently conducting joint exercises near the disputed regions of the South China Sea and Taiwan. The exact number of missiles deployed by the U.S. remains undisclosed.”

Multi-Domain Task Force

Some Russian sources suggest that a key motive behind this action is to test the effectiveness of the Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF), designed to contain China. In response, Russia has announced plans to resume the production of medium and shorter-range missiles, with officials indicating that this process will commence immediately.

This announcement came as Washington urged Russia to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, despite the U.S. having formally withdrawn from the agreement in 2019.

A new round of the Cold War?

Since the U.S. exited the INF Treaty, there has been a significant push to develop and deploy intermediate-range, land-based missiles. Some media outlets suggest that Russia’s decision to increase missile production directly responds to U.S. missile deployments in regions like the Philippines.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has declared, “We reserve the right to respond in kind, which will mean an end to Russia’s unilateral moratorium on deploying these weapon systems.” Following the U.S.’s actions, Russia has accelerated the development and production of such missile systems, leveraging existing research and development and advancements within its military-industrial complex to expedite the process.

Previously, the Ministry of Defense suggested a potential restart in missile production. The U.S. cited alleged Russian violations and the development of similar missiles in China, Pakistan, North Korea, and India as reasons for its withdrawal from the INF Treaty. Despite this, the U.S. has called on Russia to adhere to treaties it has already abandoned.

With Russia intensifying its missile production efforts, the situation recalls, yet differs from, the Cold War era when the USSR and the U.S. were embroiled in an arms race. This renewed escalation by Russia could provoke a similar response from the U.S., potentially leading to serious negative consequences for Washington.

The First Option – Relikt

One of the most significant threats to NATO is the Relikt system. Developed by the Novator bureau in the 1980s, this system uses KS-122 missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers. Although these missiles resemble the S-400 in size and appearance, their destructive power is far greater, capable of carrying warheads with yields up to 200 kilotons. For comparison, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 20 kilotons each. In 2023, discussions about the Relikt system resurfaced, linking it to the development of the Kalibr-M missiles.


The second system, the Iskander, includes the 9M723 missile, which has a range of 300 kilometers. The modified version, 9M723-1, extends this range to 500 kilometers. Experts believe that the 9M723 served as a basis for the Kinzhal missile, which has a much greater range of up to 1,500 kilometers. Even during the time of the INF Treaty, experts speculated that the 9M723 could potentially reach 800 kilometers, although it was never designed or tested for such distances. With recent advancements in Russian engine technology, which have increased missile ranges by around 40% without changing the design, a new engine could potentially allow the 9M723 to reach up to 900 kilometers.


The third option is the Zircon missile, which can be launched from the same platform as a Kalibr missile within a minute. According to Russian experts, no current or planned NATO air defense systems can reliably intercept the Zircon missile. Military expert Yuriy Knutov told “Izvestia” that the Zircon reaches speeds of up to Mach 9, or approximately 11,000 kilometers per hour, with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers. Additionally, the Zircon can be equipped with a nuclear warhead, further enhancing its capabilities.