Russia: Vladimir Putin threatens to target USA over missiles based in Europe

Thursday, 21 Feb, 2019

Is a new hypersonic arms race underway?

The Russian leader announced several policies that he said would boost living standards, while addressing the country's declining birth rate.

"Russia will be forced to create and develop weapons that can both be used on the territory where the threat comes from and decision-making centers", Putin told lawmakers gathered in a historic hall near the Kremlin. Putin said in his address that testing was successful and that later this year, the government will commission a submarine to carry the device.

"I'm saying this clearly and openly, Russian Federation will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used. against the decision-making centres that are behind the missiles systems which threaten us".

With a second pact covering nuclear weapons likely to expire in two years, the risks of confrontation are growing.

Putin also mentioned that, "Russia will deploy a new hypersonic missile for its navy as part of an ongoing plan to modernize its military capabilities and efforts".

Officials in Washington should "calculate the range and speed of our future weapons systems", he warned.

But he said that Russia's reaction to any deployment would be resolute and that USA policymakers, some of whom he said were obsessed with United States exceptionalism, should calculate the risks before taking any steps. It called on Moscow to "focus on returning to compliance" with the INF treaty.

Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton far left is a longstanding opponent of arms control agreements
Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton far left is a longstanding opponent of arms control agreements Credit Andrew Harnik AP

"It remains in material breach of its obligations not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers".

Last year, Putin used his annual address to unveil a new arsenal of weapons in a almost two-hour speech that stunned the West and many in Russian Federation. "They are themselves violating everything and then looking for justification and finding culprits", the Russian president said.

"There's a certain sense of impending doom".

But a year on, Putin has seen his popularity slide against a backdrop of economic problems.

McFaul asserted that "we've seen time and time again that when Trump and Putin get together, President Putin spins lies and disinformation that President Trump accepts".

A hugely unpopular reform raising the retirement age that Putin signed into law in October led to a major dip in his support.

Political analyst Aleksey Mukhin predicts Putin's speech this year will focus primarily on "internal politics and the economy", which has suffered since it was hit with Western sanctions in 2014 over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Past year the government's statistics agency said the country's birthrate had fallen by 11 percent in 2017 to the lowest level in a decade.