The January 2005 START data brought few surprises. The Rocket Forces continue to bear the brunt of the reductions, but mainly because they have more things to cut than the the Navy or the strategic aviation.

Of particular interest here is elimination of SS-18 heavy missiles and the plans to convert the Dombarovsky missile base into a space launch site. As our readers noted, START Treaty seems to prohibit converting a part of a site for space launches while still keeping operational ICBMs there.

There are several way to resolve the issue, but the easiest one would probably be to remove all operational ICBMs from Dombarovsky. Russia has another heavy-missile division, the one in Uzhur, which could accommodate the 40 R-36M2/SS-18 missiles that Russia intends to keep.

We'll probably have to wait to see which way this is going - decommissioning of SS-18 missiles (of the R-36MUTTH variety) will certainly continue in the coming months, so we will see whether they are withdrawn from Uzhur or Dombarovsky.