Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev in his address to the parliament on November 5, 2008 announced some changes in the plans to liquidate the missile division in Kozelsk. According to Medvedev, he reversed a decision taken earlier to liquidate three regiments of the division and to discontinue the division entirely in 2010. The Rocket Forces apparently will keep the division now.

The Kozelsk division had 60 UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missiles in 1991, when the START Treaty was signed. Removal of missiles began in 2007 and by July 2008 only 46 missiles were still in their silos. That was part of the original plan to close Kozelsk. Now the missiles would stay longer.

These would not be the same missiles, however - most likely the Rocket Forces would use the Kozelsk silos to deploy the "Ukrainian" UR-100NUTTH missiles - about 30 "dry" missiles that Russia received from Ukraine and which could stay in service until 2020-2030. In 2005 the Rocket Forces announced that it will keep these missiles in service, but that decision was apparently overturned somewhere between then and 2007, when Russia began withdrawal of missiles from Kozelsk. Now it has been overturned again.

My guess is that the decision to keep the UR-100NUTTH missile has more to do with the competition between Russian missile design bureaus - NPOmash, which designed the UR-100NUTTH, and MITT, responsible for Topol-M (and its MIRVed RS-24 version) and Bulava - than with anything else. At the same time, the timing and the tone of the announcement was certainly chosen deliberately to send some kind of a signal to the United States. If the idea was to show that Russia is serious about getting back to arms control talks with the new U.S. administration, this particular signal was hardly helpful.

(Medvedev also announced that Russia could deploy short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region "to counter" the deployment of elements of the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic - another example of how the missile defense, not even built, poisons relationships between Russia and its neighbors.)