Russian CBRN Capability

Russian Troops in NBC IPE

Those of us that served in the United Kingdom armed forces in the seventies and eighties will remember the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) threat lecture.

The video used in that lecture portrayed hundreds of well trained and well equipped Russian infantry soldiers advancing at the double through a smoke screen that was simulating a gas cloud.  They appeared to all intents and purposes like extras on a Star Wars film set.

In those Cold War lessons, we learnt that our Soviet adversaries regarded chemical weapons in the same way as they regarded conventional munitions, and were prepared to use them in any future conflict.

Emergency personnel preparing to take part in the exercise

On the missile front Russia’s has fielded this impressive piece of equipment.  It’s their Topol M on a mobile erector launcher.

Topol M on a mobile erector

Is it claimed by the Russian Federation to be capable of penetrating US missile defence systems with the capacity to completely destroy an area the size of Texas!  It flys faster with with a smaller heat signature which makes harder for defences to detect and shortens re action time.  It’s also capable of  deploying its own decoys too!

Pictured below left is a RKhM-6 CBRN recconaissance Vehicle.

RKhM-6 CBRN recconaissance Vehicle

This vehicle can reportedly detect chemical agents  and measure the concentration whilst on the move at a distance of 5 kilometers.  Its also equiped with the latest automatic meteorological and satelite navigation systems.

I have highlighted and only touched on Russia’s chemical capability, we must not forget of course their biological and radiological assets.

ARS- 14KM Dcontamination vehicle

I cannot finish this article without mentioning the Alexander Litvinenko affair, where on the First of November 2006 Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium 210.  Was this a first in radiological assasinations or were there other undetected assinations which have taken place?  And more recently the assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter using Novichok nerve agent.  One things for sure, it appears that there is another weapon in the Russian CBRN arsenal.  The use of CBRN substances for covert operations.


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Ken Russell joined the army in 1975 and quickly became a NBC instructor and towards the end of his career he was posted to DBRNC Winterbourne Gunner. Following on from his time as a Trials Officer at the Defence CBRN Centre Winterbourne Gunner, Ken identified a need for CBRN training for companies and individuals outside the military environment. As a result, he founded CBRN Europe in 2010. One of his early roles for CBRN Europe was the task of acting as a Radiation Safety Supervisor to international news teams reporting on the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station disaster in Japan. Daily background radiation monitoring was undertaken amongst various other tasks.