- Vladimir Putin revealed a slew of new defense systems Thursday, including a new prototype missile that "can reach any point in the world" and a supersonic weapon that cannot be tracked by anti-missile systems.
- Delivering his annual State of the Union address, Putin also said that, if attacked, Russia was ready to use nuclear weapons.
- Putin joked that the two new strategic nuclear weapons he described — the global cruise missile and the subsurface unmanned vehicle — did not have names yet and lawmakers could submit their suggestions via the Defense Ministry website.
Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed a slew of new defense systems Thursday, including a new prototype missile that "can reach any point in the world" and a supersonic weapon that cannot be tracked by anti-missile systems.
Delivering his annual State of the Union address, Putin announced increased capabilities in the defense sector, saying that Russia "should not forget about security," following a speech that had initially focused on domestic issues. Putin also said that, if attacked, Russia was ready to use nuclear weapons.
"We see increased opportunities with the armed forces," he said. "We've done a lot to strengthen our army and navy and they are equipped with modern weaponry."
He showed the audience a video of how one of the prototype missiles would work, explaining that the new system would have no limitation on range. "It can attack any target, through the North or South Pole, it is a powerful weapon and no missile defense system will be able to withstand," the president said.
Telling the audience that more was to come, Putin also said Russia had another weapon that was a "small nuclear power energy system" — a nuclear warhead — that can be deployed on a cruise missile system that can also, he claimed, "avoid all interceptors."
He said the country had tested this cruise missile with the "nuclear power energy unit" in 2017 and it was successful. Russia would start manufacturing this now, he added.
"This is unheard of and nobody else has such a system in the world. They might create something like this in the future but by then our guys will have created something new as well."
Putin joked that the two new strategic nuclear weapons he described — the global cruise missile and the subsurface unmanned vehicle — did not have names yet and lawmakers could submit their suggestions via the Defense Ministry website.
Showman-like in the delivery of his address, Putin told the audience "but even this is not the end," unveiling a system capable of destroying intercontinental targets with "hypersonic speed."
"I'm pleased to inform you that after certain experiments, we are sure that soon Russia's strategic missile forces will have a new system capable of destroying intercontinental targets with hypersonic speed and high-precision, able to maneuver both in terms of its course and altitude. There are no systems like that in the world."
He said Russia had been open about the development of such a system but that "nobody listened to us, but listen to us now." Lawmakers gave Putin a standing ovation at that point.
Speaking more generally about the new developments, he said Russia had adopted 300 new models of weaponry providing the armed forces with 18 new ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), two submarine-based ballistic missiles. He added that the country had commissioned three new nuclear submarines and also increased the number of its high-precision long-range missiles.
He said Russia had developed new weapons as a response to the U.S.' withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002. The treaty, signed between the U.S. and then Soviet Union in 1972, barred the countries from deploying defenses against strategic ballistic missiles.
Russia has complained repeatedly about the U.S. placing anti-ballistic missile systems on its doorstep, as a result of what it called "eastward NATO expansion", in the form of the global missile defense system in Romania and Poland.
Putin said that if Russia had done nothing in response, its nuclear potential could have been undermined. Instead, Russia had responded by creating weapons that could bypass the U.S.' global missile defense system.
"After the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty we've been working hard to develop new promising weaponry systems and this enabled us to make a big step forward creating new strategic arms … U.S. global missile systems are mainly against ballistic missiles and these are the core of our nuclear deterrent. This is why Russia has been developing extremely effective systems to defeat missile defense and all our ICBMs are equipped with such systems now," he said.
Putin insisted that Russia had no plans to attack anybody or to take anything away from anybody, saying "we have everything we need."
But he wanted the weapon development to act as a warning. "I'm not bluffing," he said, adding that Russia was ready to defend herself.
"I hope all these things I have said will sober up any potential aggressor and any unfriendly steps taken towards Russia like deploying missile defense systems and expanding NATO towards our borders. Militarily, this is no longer effective and financially, this is no longer viable and eventually, this is just nonsensical for the people who do this."
"Russia's growing military power is just a guarantee of peace on our planet," he insisted, and it would preserve the balance of powers in the world.
"Those who have been creating new arms races over the last 15 years, imposing unlawful sanctions on Russia to hold our country back, I would like to say, 'All the things you were trying to hold back have already happened, you were unable to hold Russia back.'"
He also said Russia is developing new underwater drones that can carry nuclear warheads. These were described as un-manned, noiseless submarines that move at ultra-deep levels and at high speed. "This is just fantastic," Putin said.
"There is no defense system that can cope with such subsurface vehicles that can be equipped with conventional or nuclear weapons, attacking coastal defenses and infrastructure facilities." These underwater drones were 100 times smaller than a conventional submarine, Putin noted.
The State of the Union address is the last one that Putin will make before a president election on March 18. Putin is expected to win the election comfortably and enter a fourth term of leadership.