Putin boasts of new Russian nuclear weapons ‘invulnerable to interception’
The Russian president said the new weaponry will help ensure global stability, draw a line under attempts to weaken his country and render Nato’s US-led missile defence system ‘useless’.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia has tested an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that cannot be intercepted.
This marks a technological breakthrough that would dramatically increase Russia’s military capability and boost the Kremlin’s global position.
In a state-of-the-nation speech in Moscow, the Russian president said the weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and a new hypersonic missile.
He said the creation of the new weapons has rendered Nato’s US-led missile defence “useless”, and means an effective end to what he described as Western efforts to curb Russia’s development.
Mr Putin said: “I want to tell all those who have fuelled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: all that you wanted to impede with your policies has already happened.
“You have failed to contain Russia.”
The announcement comes as Mr Putin is set to easily win another six-year presidential term in the March 18 election.
He said that the nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last autumn has an unlimited range as well as high speed and manoeuvrability, allowing it to pierce any missile defence.
The Russian leader said the high-speed underwater drone also has an “intercontinental” range and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities. He said its operational depth and high speed would make it immune to enemy interception.
He added that names for the nuclear-powered cruise missile and the drone have not yet been chosen, and suggested that the defence ministry should run a nationwide contest for the best names.
Mr Putin accompanied his statement to an audience of hundreds of senior officials and legislators with videos and computer images of new weapons, which were shown on giant screens at a conference hall near the Kremlin.
“No-one in the world has anything like that,” he said. “It may appear someday, but by that time we will develop something new.”
The Russian leader said that another new weapon, called Avangard, is an intercontinental hypersonic missile that could fly to targets at a speed 20 times the speed of sound and strike “like a meteorite, like a fireball”.
Mr Putin said Russia has also tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, called Sarmat, with a range and number of warheads exceeding its Soviet-era predecessor, known in the West as Satan.
The Russian leader emphasised that the development of new weapons that have no equivalent in the West came in response to the US withdrawal from a Cold war-era treaty banning missile defences, and US efforts to develop a missile defence system.
He said that the US has ignored Russian complaints.
“No-one has listened to us,” Mr Putin said. “You listen to us now.”
He said the new weapons will help ensure global stability and draw a line under attempts to weaken Russia.
The Russian leader added that another weapons system, called Kinzhal, has been deployed in Russia’s Southern Military District, and can strike targets 1,250 miles away.