Did the Kremlin just officially announce the start of a new arms race versus the United States?
During a nationally televised address to the political elite in Russia, President Vladimir Putin announced that the country has been able to develop nuclear missiles with the capabilities of breaching the defences of the United States. In fact, Putin disclosed that Russia continues to test a new line of strategic, nuclear weapons that can outmanoeuvre the anti-ballistic missile systems of the West.
The Russian President showed video proof of the new ICBMs, nuclear powered cruise missiles, underwater drones and other weapons. According to Putin, the weapons were developed as a response to the United States pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty it had signed with the then-Soviet Union.
Putin’s announcement appeared to come at the heels of the Pentagon’s publication of a new nuclear arms policy which was based on U.S. President Donald Trump to “develop an arsenal so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.
Putin appeared to have issued a rebuttal to Trump’s declaration that the United States will return to becoming a superpower:
“I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years; to gain unilateral advantages over Russia, and to impose restrictions and sanctions… the attempt at curbing Russia has failed.”
The Russian President’s state of the union speech was heavy on economic rhetoric; promises of a better life and more opportunities for the Russian people. These included a plan to raise life expectancy by 10 years, ambitions to improve Russia’s GDP by 50% in 2025 and to reduce poverty in half.
It was also heavy on standard political histrionics; reigniting impressions of another Cold War versus the enemy, the United States.
During the speech, Putin showcased his assortment of new weapons for Russia. The video showed a successful test launch of an RS-28 Sarmat missile that has an ICBM with the capability of flying 6,800 miles and carry a payload of 15 warheads.
Putin also revealed that Russia has been able to develop a working laser weapon, a hypersonic missile and a nuclear reactor-powered cruise missile with the ability to fly “indefinitely”.
These appear to be the right ingredients to consolidate Putin’s forces in time for the March 18 presidential elections. Putin is widely expected to walk in through the Kremlin and win his fourth term as President.