Russia has developed a new cruise missile that can render defence systems “useless,”President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday.
The hypersonic missile could “reach anywhere in the world” and not be stopped by the US shield in Europe and Asia, he said in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly.
Mr Putin showcased a range of new weapons as he laid out key policies for a fourth presidential term, ahead of the March 18 election.
He highlighted two nuclear-capable weapons – a cruise missile and a submarine-launched unmanned underwater vehicle.
The warhead, he said, was “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 defence and air defence.”
During the two-hour televised speech to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament, he asked Russians to suggest names for the two systems.
He said Russia had reacted after years of pleading with the US not to break away from anti-missile treaties.
The new military systems using new physical principles, including laser systems, multiply Russia’s opportunities in the defence sector.
“We are well aware of the fact that some counties have been working on new weapons based on new physical principles,” he said. “We have reasons to believe here we are one step ahead of them. At least, where it is needed most,” Tass quoted Putin as saying.
He also said Russia could not take its power for granted.
“We have no right to allow the stability we have achieved to lead to complacency. Especially since we are far from resolving many problems,” he said.
“Russia is now a leading country with a powerful foreign economic and defence potential. But from the point of view of the extremely important task of ensuring people’s quality of life and welfare we, of course, have not achieved the level we require. But we have to do this and will do this.”
Russia’s military power was built to maintain peace in the world, he argued. However, if anyone fired a nuclear weapon against Russia, he said, it would be met with instantaneous retaliation.
Russia’s operations in Syria – supporting the Assad government’s fight against rebels – showed the country’s increased defence capabilities, said the president.
He also said a bridge to the Crimean peninsula would be open within the next couple of months.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, during Mr Putin’s current term in office.
Russia was safeguarding its interest in the Arctic region by strengthening its military infrastructure in the region, he said.
Digital growth was also essential, Putin said. He said he wanted Russia to become one of the world’s main hubs for storing and processing big data.
He called for more progress in making robots and artificial intelligence. New talent in technology should be nurtured and foreigners should be encouraged to study in Russia, he said.
All government business would be digitalised ” to make it more transparent to fight corruption”, he said.
Putin also pledged to halve poverty in the country within the next six years. In 2000 there were 42 million people in Russia living below the poverty line, he said; today there were 20 million, but this still needed to come down.