In his annual address in front of Russia’s Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin claimed his country has developed an array of new “invincible” weapons which are capable of thwarting the most advanced missile defense shields.
A speech ordinarily reserved to lay out a domestic vision for the year, Putin spent the second half of his speech warning the West, particularly the U.S., Russia intends to maintain a deadly balance in the emerging arms race.
Despite stressing Russia is not threatening any foreign nation and has no aim to launch an attack, Putin revealed the existence of a hyper-sonic missile and a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, which is capable of eluding missile defenses.
Pausing several times during his speech as infographics and video of the new weapons were displayed, Putin told Russian lawmakers:
“I hope what was said today will sober any potential aggressor or unfriendly gestures towards Russia, like the deployment of an ABM system and the development of NATO infrastructure close to our borders. That should be seen from the military point of view as inefficient, financially costly and simply useless. Nobody listened to us before. Listen to us now.”
Mr. Putin made no mention of the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT) in 2002 during the speech, but admitted Russia was currently experimenting on laser weapons systems and revealed a high-speed underwater drone was in the developmental stage.
A speech which follows the Pentagon’s plans to expand on its nuclear arsenal last month, some Western experts say this is pure politics ahead of Russia’s March 18 presidential election. Others perceive Putin’s remarks as signaling a broken relationship with the Trump White House.
“The tension level is . . . higher now than it was several months ago, in part because the Russians have gotten past the phase where they thought with President Trump they would be able to move the relationship in a different direction,” said George W. Bush National Security Council’s Thomas Graham. “This is qualitatively worse than any post-Cold War period.”
In an interview conducted Thursday with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, Putin denied a new era of struggle for global domination has emerged between Washington and Moscow, but alluded to “an arms race” that the Kremlin leader said started with the U.S. backing out of ABMT.
[The Sun] [Reuters] [Washington Post] [NBC News] [Photo courtesy Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty/Rolling Stone]