The Russian President’s comments in his recent annual state-of-the-union address prove that the arms race has intensified.
Last Thursday, Vladimir Putin boasted about Russia’s military capabilities and claimed that the country has a nuclear weapon arsenal with missiles capable of allegedly penetrating the U.S. anti-missile defenses.
Several weapons, like intercontinental ballistic missiles and underwater drones, were showcased on large screens during his speech.
“Amid applause from the audience, a video showed a digital animation of a cruise missile fired from northern Russia flying across the Atlantic Ocean, evading missile defenses, then circling around the southern tip of South America before heading north toward the U.S.,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Most of the weapons Mr. Putin highlighted are already well known to the U.S., whose missile defenses are designed to counter the actions of rogue states rather than of Moscow. He did surprise some U.S. analysts by announcing that Russia would field a new nuclear-powered, air-launched cruise missile.”
One of the video graphics showed missiles raining down on the U.S. state of Florida.
The State Department said it was “certainly unfortunate to have watched the video animation that depicted a nuclear attack on the United States” – adding that it was not “the behavior of a responsible international player.”
Apparently, the assembly in attendance broke out into applause during the video’s airing.
“Efforts to contain Russia have failed,” said Putin, who also said the country had developed a long-range nuclear-powered cruise missile with unlimited range.
“It is developing some of the best weapons in the world, and the United States, if they want to maintain parity, has to answer the challenge quickly,” said Ivan Konovalov, an independent defense analyst in Moscow.
This rhetoric seems to be in response to the U.S. and other countries investing and upgrading their nuclear arsenal.
“What worries me most is the resurgence of a dynamic to outmatch the other side with new nuclear weapons,” said Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists.
North Korea has repeatedly conducted missile tests violating sanctions and continues to threaten the U.S. with its weaponry.
President Donald Trump has responded to these threats by saying the U.S. is more than ready to take military action if needed.
“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….” tweeted Trump last year. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
Last month, the Pentagon agreed to an estimated $1.2 trillion plan to upgrade its nuclear capabilities for military’s air-, land-, and sea-based forces.
However, there are restrictions in place on the number of warheads permitted per country.
Russia and Washington are meeting on the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that limits the countries to 1,550 nuclear warheads.
It’s unlikely that this number will be cut and there are some loopholes in these restrictions that the countries are taking advantage of.
“Instead, the two sides are concentrating on updating systems allowed under New START and deploying weapons that fall outside the scope of that agreement,” writes the WSJ. “Among those, the Pentagon is planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons—a new “low-yield” submarine-launched ballistic missile and a sea-launched cruise missile—it says are needed to deter Russia from contemplating the limited use of nuclear weapons during a military crisis.”
Following Putin’s speech, the Pentagon said that its missile defenses are not aimed at Moscow.
“We are not surprised by his statement,” said Dana White, Pentagon spokeswoman about Putin. She also said that the U.S. military is “fully prepared” to defend the country.
Author’s note: While we don’t believe Russia is ready or willing to use nuclear weapons, the video that depicted a nuclear launch aimed at Florida is disturbing. The media has made a big impact here and has heightened the tensions between Russian and the U.S. The liberal media, in particular, is constantly hammering Russia. So, Putin feels like he needs to respond and show Russia’s power.