- Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a threatening state of the nation address on Wednesday.
- He warned that if the US deployed intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Europe in the absence of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russia would respond.
- Putin threatened to target both the host countries for the new missiles and US decision-making centres with new weapons.
- One new weapon unveiled during his speech was the Zircon hypersonic missile, which can fly nine times the speed of sound and strike targets 620 miles away.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia will target the US with new weapons should Washington decide to deploy intermediate-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to Europe following the recent death of a Cold War-era arms control agreement, according to multiple reports.
Delivering his annual state of the nation address, Putin urged US leaders to take Russia’s weaponry into consideration when making decisions.
“It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I expect they can. So let them count the range and speed of our weapons,” he said.
During his speech, he unveiled the new Zircon missile, a hypersonic weapon he said was able to fly at nine times the speed of sound and strike targets 620 miles away.
The Russian president’s rhetoric, a familiar return to last year’s speech, comes just a few weeks after the US decided to walk away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over Moscow’s alleged violations of the arms control pact.
Russia, accused of violating the agreement with the development of the Novator 9M729 missile, which NATO refers to as SSC-8, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
With the end of the treaty, both the US and Russia threatened to develop new weapons, signalling the start of a new arms race.
Putin stressed Wednesday that Russia would not be the first to deploy ICBMs in Europe – something the INF Treaty banned – insisting that Russia does not “want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US.”
He added that if Washington takes that step, Moscow “will be forced, and I want to underline this, forced to take both reciprocal and asymmetrical measures.”
“We know how to do this and we will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the corresponding threats to us become a reality,” he added.
During last year’s state of the nation address, Putin unveiled a suite of new weapons, including the Burevestnik invincible nuclear-powered cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone, both of which are still in testing.
It is worth noting that Russia already has a full arsenal of weaponry targeting the US and its allies and partners, and any new systems would likely do the same.
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