Wednesday 12 December 2018

Russia has underwater drones that can launch a nuclear bomb

Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow. Photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow. Photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Alec Luhn

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country has tested new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile and a nuclear-powered underwater drone, that would be immune to enemy intercept.

Speaking in a 'state of the nation' speech yesterday, Mr Putin said the nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last autumn has an unlimited range and high speed and is capable of penetrating any missile defences.

He said the high-speed underwater drone capable of carrying a nuclear warhead could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities. Mr Putin said Russia also tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, called Sarmat, with a range and number of warheads exceeding its predecessor.

Earlier, he promised to halve poverty and raise GDP. The remarks are seen as his vision for a next term, which he is almost certain to win. Mr Putin has not put forward a campaign platform and been largely absent from the race so far.

Among a raft of ambitious goals, the president promised to cut poverty in half in the next six years, saying the 20 million Russians below the poverty line was too many. He also called for a 50pc increase in GDP per capita by 2025.

He said the top priority should be the well-being of Russians and their families, calling for a "leap forward in the quality of people's lives, the modernisation of technologies, government, management".

"Russia has realised its foreign policy and defence potential, but in terms of people's personal growth we haven't reached our full abilities...We will do this," Mr Putin said.

"Technological development" and "digital economy" were the latest watchwords from the Russian leader, who has tentatively embraced innovations like blockchain while also cracking down on dissent on the web. He said Russia should be a country "open to the world, to new ideas and initiatives".

"We should increase the space for freedom in all spheres and strengthen democracy," said Mr Putin, whose expected victory in the March 18 election would keep him in power for more than 25 years, longer than Joseph Stalin. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been barred from the race due to an embezzlement conviction that the European Court of Human Rights has said was politicised.

As he spoke, the president paused frequently, not just for clapping but also to cough and gulp from a cup on the podium. When Mr Putin disappeared from public view for nearly two weeks last month, his spokesman said he had a cold, a rare admission from an administration that has constantly stressed the leader's robust health.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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