Russia Tries to Dispel Doubts About New Weapons Arsenal

(Bloomberg) -- Russia is trying to dispel doubts that Vladimir Putin was bluffing when he bragged about a new generation of weapons that he said will render U.S. missile defenses “ineffective.”

Three days after the Russian president’s meeting with his American counterpart Donald Trump, when the leaders announced no developments in talks on a pair of nuclear arms treaties, the Defense Ministry in Moscow released the first footage meant to suggest it’s making progress in building up its new arsenal.

The videos, published on the ministry’s Facebook page on Thursday, purport to display six weapons systems in total, from a maneuverable intercontinental hypersonic missile to a nuclear-powered cruise rocket. When Putin first rolled out the arms program four months ago, it wasn’t clear how many of them actually existed or how far along their development was.

“During Putin’s March speech, most of the videos were computer animation,” said Igor Korotchenko, head of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade in Moscow. “But now it’s about the real thing.”

Unveiling the weapons during his annual address, Putin described them as Russia’s response to the U.S. decision in 2002 to pull out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and develop its global defense shield. With ties between Russia and the U.S. roiled by allegations of Kremlin meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, Putin played videos of warheads targeting what appeared to be a map of Florida but said the goal wasn’t to threaten anyone.

‘Strategic Balance’

“Russia’s growing military might is a reliable guarantee of peace on our planet because it ensures the strategic balance in the world,” Putin said at the time.

One of the new videos purported to demonstrate a submarine drone in an assembly plant. Known as Poseidon, it is said to be capable of attacking ships or coastal cities. Burevestnik, or Petrel, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, was shown near a banner that congratulates Russia’s national team on reaching the quarterfinals of the soccer World Cup.

Other clips included what the ministry said was a launch test of the Avangard intercontinental hypersonic missile and showed weapons including the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, the air-to-surface “Dagger” missile and a laser system called Peresvet, which was described as already in service.

The videos try to show that work on the weapons is progressing, said Anton Lavrov, an independent military analyst. But “they don’t prove that these arms will be functional soon,” he said.

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