According to a report by news agency TASS, Russia’s Avangard strategic silo-based hypersonic missile complex has been included in the state armament plan through 2027 instead of Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as a weapon more essential to ensure the country’s defense capability.
“It was initially planned to include both the Avangard and the Rubezh in the state armament plan but it became clear later that funds would not suffice to finance both systems at a time. Therefore, the Avangard was included in the program’s final version as more essential to ensure the country’s defense capability,” a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS.
The RS-26 Rubezh is the project of a road-mobile missile complex armed with a small-sized intercontinental solid-propellant ballistic missile with greater precision. On December 14, 2012, the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Missile Force, Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev, told the media that in the future the new missile will replace the Topol-M and Yars ICBMs. Many Russian experts refute this, however.
In March 2015 it was acknowledged that RS-26 Rubezh is a shorter version of the RS-24 Yars ICBM with one less stage, much similar to the SS-20 Saber being a shorter version of the SS-16 Sinner.
In a media statement, the adviser to the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Victor Esin, of July 21, 2015, the missile system with the RS-26 ICBM, known as Rubezh, also was named Yars-M.
Some US media outlets earlier speculated that the RS-26 could be used at distances of less than 5,500 km, i.e. to operate as an intermediate-range missile. On February 20, 2018, US President Donald Trump instructed his administration to prepare a special report on whether the Rubezh fell under the restrictions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (the New START Treaty).
The RS-26 is designed to pose a strategic threat to European capitals and has the ability to target NATO forces in Western Europe. According to an article by Jeffrey Lewis entitled “The Problem With Russia’s Missiles”, the purpose of these weapons is to deter Western forces from coming to the aid of the NATO’s newer eastern members that are located closer to Russia’s borders.