START treaty data that were publicly released a few days ago provide an update of the numbers of nuclear launchers and warheads that Russia had in its arsenal in January 2008. According to these data, the Russian strategic forces in January 2008 included 682 strategic launchers that can carry 3100 warheads. This is about 60 launchers and 180 warheads fewer than a year ago, in January 2007.

The main change is the decrease in the number of deployed ICBMs - the Strategic Rocket Forces continue to withdraw older UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 and Topol/SS-25 missiles. In 2007 they removed all Topol missiles from the Kansk division and began liquidation of the UR-100NUTTH division in Kozelsk. In addition, some Topol missiles were removed from the division in Teykovo, where some of them were replaced by new Topol-M/SS-27 missiles. Deployment of silo-based Topol-M missiles continued in Tatishchevo - 4 missiles were accepted for service there.

The status of the strategic fleet is somewhat difficult to assess. According to the START data, Russia has 196 deployed SLBMs. This number, however, includes 23 R-39/SS-N-20 missiles, associated with Project 941/Typhoon submarines. Since these submarines do not carry operational missiles, I traditionally do not count them in the total number of deployed SLBMs. Things are further complicated by the fact that some submarines of other types - Project 667BDR/Delta III and Project 667BDRM/Delta IV - also may not carry operational missiles. Some submarines are in overhaul and therefore should not be considered operational. It is possible, for example, that of the entire Project 667BDRM fleet, only one submarine - K-114 Tula - has a full complement of missiles. However, unless there is reliable information on the status of submarines, I will continue to follow the START numbers, which seriously overestimate the number of operational SLBMs.

The significant change in the strategic aviation was introduction of a new Tu-160 bomber. The bomber is still listed as located at the Kazan aviation plant, but it is now accounted for in the official START data.

The January 2008 data exchange for the first time contains information about the RS-24 missile. The MOU specifies that "1 (one) road-mobile test launcher for the prototype RS-24 ICBM is located at test range Plesetsk." The launcher is put in a category of its own, most likely deliberately - to avoid answering questions about the relation between RS-24 and Topol-M. No technical characteristics of the new "prototype missile" are listed.