Putin, who polls indicate should be easily re-elected on March 18, backed his tough rhetoric with video clips of some of the new missiles he was talking about, which were projected on a giant screen behind him at the conference hall in central Moscow where he was addressing Russia’s political elite.
Among the new weapons that Putin said were either in development or ready: a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a small nuclear warhead that could be attached to cruise missiles, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon and a laser weapon.
Putin, who has dominated his country’s political landscape for the last 18 years and often used anti-Western rhetoric to mobilise support, said the technological advances meant that NATO’s build-up on Russia’s borders and the roll-out of a U.S. anti-missile system would be rendered useless. Steps to contain Russia would also become unjustifiably expensive and pointless, he forecast.
The Russian leader also voiced concerns about a new U.S. nuclear doctrine, saying that Russia’s own doctrine was defensive and only envisaged the use of nuclear weapons in response to an attack.
Russia has repeatedly said it is keen to hold talks with the United States about the balance of strategic nuclear power.