Tuesday 22 October 2019

I'll aim new missiles at US cities, warns Putin

Weapons: Vladimir Putin made threat during address to federal assembly. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Weapons: Vladimir Putin made threat during address to federal assembly. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Alec Luhn

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will train its new nuclear weapons on America if the US deploys missiles to Europe following the demise of a major arms control treaty.

In an annual speech to the federal assembly, the Russian leader yesterday accused Washington of planning to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the continent following its withdrawal from a bilateral agreement banning the weapons.

This would put the missiles a 10-minute flight away from Moscow, compelling Russia to consider "symmetrical and asymmetrical actions" in response, he said.

"Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons that can be used not only against those territories posing a direct threat to us, but also against those territories where the decision-making centres are," Mr Putin said, referring to the US.

The comments marked an escalation in rhetoric from earlier this month, when he announced a "symmetrical" response to Donald Trump's suspension of US participation in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

Mr Putin's harsh rhetoric was a return to familiar territory.

Last year, he used the same speech to announce a new generation of nuclear weapons, and even deployed an animated video showing a direct strike on Florida.

Russia's new "invincible" weapons would force the West to finally listen, he said.

This year - amid falling ratings - Mr Putin presented himself as the guardian of the welfare of the nation.

There would be more money for clinics, for schools and for hospitals, he said. Benefits would be increased.

Mortgage holidays would be introduced. There would be more organic food, it was pledged.

He railed against the excesses of his own system.

He would fight, he said, against the "arrogance" of his own bureaucrats who often failed to "empathise, understand and respect" ordinary people.

But he also announced a new hypersonic missile - the Zircon - which was able to travel 1,000km at a speed of over 9 mach.

The Poseidon underwater drone and Peresvet laser system unveiled in 2018 would be deployed earlier than expected this year, he added.

Irish Independent

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