Putin promises new weapons to fend Western threats

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will counter military moves by the U.S. and NATO with an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday as the military successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from a nuclear submarine.

Putin accused the West of using the crisis in Ukraine to reinvigorate NATO, warning that Moscow will ponder a response to the alliance’s decision to create a rapid-reaction “spearhead” force to protect Eastern Europe.

The statement appeared to signal that the Russian leader is determined to pursue a tough course in the face of more Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis that has sent Russia-West relations plummeting to their lowest point since the Cold War.

“We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding countermeasures to ensure our security,” Putin said, adding that he would now take personal charge of the government commission overseeing military industries. “I would like to underline that we only take retaliatory steps.”

Putin claimed that some in the West would like to pull Russia into a new arms race, but “we will not enter such race, it’s absolutely excluded.”

He argued that Russia needs to upgrade its arsenals to replace Soviet-designed weapons approaching the end of their designated lifetime.

Putin said Russia’s weapons modernization program for 2016-2025 should focus on building a new array of offensive weapons to provide a “guaranteed nuclear deterrent;” re-arming strategic and long-range aviation; creating an aerospace defense system and developing high-precision conventional weapons.

He would not elaborate on prospective weapons, but he and other officials have repeatedly boasted about new Russian nuclear missiles’ capability to penetrate any prospective missile shield.

The Kremlin has bolstered defense spending in the past few years under an ambitious weapons modernization program that runs through 2020 and costs the equivalent of $540 billion.

The difficulties faced by the Russian arms industry have been highlighted by the long and painful development of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, which has suffered repeated launch failures.

Its designers finally seem to have cured the glitches, and the navy boasted of a successful launch of the Bulava from a nuclear submarine on Wednesday. Two more launches are set for the fall.

Talking about potential threats, the Russian president specifically pointed at the U.S. missile defense program and Washington’s plans to develop new conventional weapons that could strike targets anywhere in the world in as little as an hour with deadly precision.

 

Full article: Putin promises new weapons to fend Western threats (Associated Press)

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