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Russia

Nothing matches our new hypersonic weapons and they will safeguard Russia for decades, President Vladimir Putin boasts

  • The Kinzhal hypersonic missile has already been flown on 89 missions, while the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle enters service next year, Russia says
  • Vladimir Putin again denied that Russia had broken a 1987 nuclear treaty, saying it had no need to do so
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 7:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 7:29am

President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s new weapons have no foreign equivalents and will help ensure the country’s security for decades to come.

Putin, speaking during Tuesday’s meeting with the top military brass in Moscow, specifically mentioned the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, saying they have significantly bolstered Russia’s military capability.

Kinzhal has already been commissioned by the military. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the aircraft-carried Kinzhal missiles have been flown on 89 patrol missions this year.

Shoigu said the Avangard will enter service with the military next year.

Putin said Russia would have to respond to the planned US withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. He reaffirmed a strong denial of Washington’s claim that Russia had violated the pact with a new land-based cruise missile and blamed the US for breaking it.

He argued that Russia has no need for such a land-based weapon because it already has similar missiles on its ships and aircraft.

Washington warned this month it would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days if Russia did not return to full compliance.

The US claims the 9M729 cruise missile breaches the INF, which bans all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (300 to 3,400 miles.)

Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation.

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Putin said the Russian military has successfully tested air-launched Kh-101 and sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles with a range of 4,500km in combat in Syria.

“It has probably made our partners worry, but it doesn’t violate the INF treaty,” Putin said.

Putin said the treaty signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev didn’t limit sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, which the Soviet Union didn’t have at the time and the United States did in significant numbers.

The Russian president argued that the pact represented “unilateral disarmament” for the Soviet Union, adding: “God only knows why the Soviet leadership did it.”

He emphasised that with Russian strategic bombers and navy ships now armed with long-range cruise missiles, it makes the development of similar land-based weapons redundant.

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“It makes no difference whatsoever if we have a Kalibr-armed submarine or aircraft carrying missiles or similar weapons ashore,” he said. “We can strike any targets within the range of 4,500km from the territory of Russia.”

Putin added, however, that Russia could easily build such land-based missiles if the US opts out of the INF Treaty, which he described as a key stabilising factor.

“If we have similar air- and sea-launched systems, it wouldn’t be that difficult for us to do some research and development to put them on land if needed,” he said.

Putin added that Russia also has other new weapons that aren’t banned by the INF, such as the air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, saying that they have significantly bolstered Russia’s military capability.

“No one has hypersonic weapons yet, but we have it,” he said.

Kinzhal has already been commissioned by the military, which put them in service with a squadron of MiG-31 fighter jets.

Putin suggested that other countries that built intermediate-range missiles should be engaged in talks on a possible new agreement.

“Why not start talks on their accession to the treaty, or discuss parameters of a new agreement?” he said.