Washington, United States | AFP | The United States has accused Moscow of openly breaching Cold War-era treaties by developing what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a new generation of “invincible” hypersonic weapons and submarines.
Putin unveiled the new arsenal Thursday in a state of the nation address, challenging Washington to a new arms race ahead of a March 18 presidential election that will all but certainly confirm his grip on power.
Putin left his usual Kremlin perch to speak from a nearby exhibition center — allowing him to show a series of video montages of missiles crossing mountains and oceans, heading over the Atlantic before striking the US eastern seaboard.
He quoted a speech he gave in 2004, vowing that Russia would develop a new generation of weaponry, a promise he said he has now fulfilled.
“No one really wanted to talk to us basically. No one listened to us then. Listen to us now,” Putin said, prompting a standing ovation from the audience of top officials, lawmakers and celebrities.
He presented Russia’s military efforts as a response to actions by the United States, which last month unveiled plans to revamp its own nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons.
And underscoring the tensions between the powers, Russia called off strategic talks with the US set for this month after a Washington delegation snubbed a meeting on cybersecurity, Moscow’s ambassador to the US told TASS news agency Friday.
– ‘Cheesy’ attack video –
The US State Department expressed outrage at Putin’s presentation and his “cheesy” animated video of warheads over US soil — and said the Russian leader had confirmed long-held allegations about his program.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was “unfortunate” to have watched a video animation that depicted a nuclear attack on the United States.
“We don’t regard that as the behavior of a responsible international player,” she said.
“President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known for a long time but that Russia has denied prior to this.
“Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems for more than a decade in direct violation of its treaty obligations.”
Nauert said Moscow had proven itself in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), through its development of ground-launched cruise missiles.