Putin missile announcement threatens nuclear arms race

Russian president says Moscow has developed array of ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons

Russian president Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly on Wednesday, unveiling new hi-tech arms that could start a new nuclear arms race


Vladimir Putin used his annual state of the nation speech on Thursday to warn the US that Russia has developed an array of invincible nuclear weapons capable of overcoming enemy defences.

Mr Putin revealed the additions to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, including an underwater drone, a long range cruise missile and laser weaponry in an address to the Federation Council, a group of lawmakers from both houses of the Russian parliament.

“Efforts to contain Russia, have failed,” the Russian president said. “Nothing of this sort exists anywhere else in the world.”

Thursday’s address was Mr Putin’s first major public speech since kicking off his campaign for the March 18th presidential election. Widely popular in Russia, he is expected easily to face off a challenge from seven rival candidates in the tightly controlled poll and secure a fourth term in office.

Turning from domestic to military matters in the second half of the speech, Mr Putin paused four times to show films and animations detailing the capability and outreach of Russia’s new nuclear weapons.

In a dramatic display of Russian military might, an underwater nuclear missile was seen rising from the sea to attack coastal facilities and a naval warship. In another animation, two long-range cruise missiles fired from Russia sailed east and west circling the world, immune to enemy ballistic shields. “We’re not threatening anyone,” Mr Putin said, adding that the new weaponry would enhance global security by recalibrating the strategic balance of power.

Domestic policies

Mr Putin said Russia was boosting its strategic nuclear capability in response to the US gradual withdrawal from arms limitation treaties signed with the Soviet Union. Russia had tried to foster a “constructive dialogue” with the US on arms control, but its proposals had repeatedly been rejected, he said.

In the first half of the speech Mr Putin outlined domestic policies for the coming six years, saying the government would aim to halve poverty in Russia, where 20 million people – or 14.2 per cent of the population – live below the bread line.

Calling for a “breakthrough in the prosperity of our citizens”, Mr Putin promised increased welfare spending and the creation of jobs in new high technology industries. Russian per capita gross domestic product should rise by 50 per cent by the middle of the next decade, he said. “Falling behind is our main threat. It’s our enemy.”

Addressing the the thorny issue of official corruption, Mr Putin said moves to digitalise government affairs would reduce opportunities for behind-the-scenes graft, adding that the “majority of bureaucrats” were honest.

Infrastructural development, focused mainly on big cities over the past two decades, would be expanded to remote regions with roads and internet facilities built across the whole land.

‘Good luck to us all’

While in the past Mr Putin has delivered state of the nation speeches in the Saint George Hall in the Kremlin, the address on Thursday was moved to the former tsar’s stables at the nearby Manezh exhibition hall to enable him to make use of video equipment.

Political analysts warned that the military emphasis in Mr Putin's speech bode badly not just for Russian-US relations in the coming six years but also for world security.

“Giving half the time in the annual address to a graphic description of new weapons’ capabilities is a measure of how close the US and Russia have moved toward military collision,” Dmitri Trenin, the head of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, wrote on Twitter. “For the forseeable future,it looks that the US-Russia agenda will be limited to just one item: war prevention. Good luck to us all.”