With his reelection less than three weeks away, Kremlin leader touts success in Syria, advances in weapons
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced that his country has a missile that can reach anywhere in the world.
In a two-hour state of the nation speech before a joint session of parliament Thursday, Putin highlighted new nuclear-capable weapons, including a cruise missile and a submarine-launched unmanned underwater vehicle, according to the BBC.
Of particular concern is what he described as “a low-flying, difficult-to-spot cruise missile with a nuclear payload with a practically unlimited range and an unpredictable flight path, which can bypass lines of interception and is invincible in the face of all existing and future systems of both missile defense and air defense.”
Putin said Russia also now has a weapon capable of flying “like a meteorite” at several times the speed of sound. “It will be practically invulnerable,” he said. “The speed will be hypersonic.”
But Russia would use nuclear weapons “only in response to a nuclear attack or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against her or her allies, or a conventional attack against us that threatens the very existence of the state,” according to RT. He contrasted his country’s policy with an emerging nuclear doctrine under the Trump administration that he said lowers the bar for the use of nuclear weapons.
Putin, who is expected to win a fourth term as Russia’s president in March 18 national elections, also focused on several foreign policy topics in Thursday’s speech. He promised that a bridge to the Crimean peninsula would be open within the next couple of months. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and is also supporting an insurgency in Eastern Ukraine that has led to at least 8,000 deaths.
He also said Russia’s operations in Syria showed the country’s increased defense capabilities. Russia got involved in the Syrian conflict in 2015, helping Damascus at a time when Syrian rebels were gaining momentum in overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad.