Russia has developed a new cruise missile that is invincible, according to President Vladimir Putin. Mr Putin made the revelation as he laid out his key policies for a fourth presidential term, ahead of an election he is expected to win in 17 days’ time.
He showcased a range of new weapons, including a missile that could “reach anywhere in the world”.
Using video presentations. he said the missile could not be stopped by the US shield in Europe and Asia.
He highlighted two nuclear-capable weapons – a cruise missile and a submarine-launched unmanned underwater vehicle.
The warhead, he said, was “a low-flying, difficult-to-spot cruise missile with a nuclear payload with a practically unlimited range and an unpredictable flight path, which can bypass lines of interception and is invincible in the face of all existing and future systems of both missile defence and air defence.”
During the two-hour televised speech to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament, he encouraged Russians to suggest names for the two systems. He argued that Russia had reacted after years of pleading with the US not to break away from anti-missile treaties.
Opposition Leader Barred From Vote
Mr Vladimir Putin faces seven challengers on 18 March, although none is expected to attract widespread support. The president played no part in a raucous televised debate broadcast on Wednesday that featured the other candidates.
Absent from the campaign is prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been barred from running and has called on voters to boycott the poll.
President Vladimir Putin has so far done little campaigning and until now said little about his plans for the next six years.
In the first half of his speech, he pledged to halve poverty in the country within the next six years.
“Every person matters to us,” he said, adding that he wanted to increase employment and longevity.
He said he wanted Russia to emulate life-expectancy rates in Japan and France.
In 2000 there were 42 million people in Russia living below the poverty line, he said; today there were 20 million, but this still needed to come down.
He also said Russia could not take its power for granted.
“We have no right to allow the stability we have achieved to lead to complacency. Especially since we are far from resolving many problems,” he said.
“Russia is now a leading country with a powerful foreign economic and defence potential. But from the point of view of the extremely important task of ensuring people’s quality of life and welfare we, of course, have not achieved the level we require. But we have to do this and will do this,” he added to applause.
Defence and Territory
Delivering his annual State of the Union address, Putin announced increased capabilities in the defense sector, saying that Russia “should not forget about security,” following a speech that had initially focused on domestic issues. Putin also said that, if attacked, Russia was ready to use nuclear weapons.
“We see increased opportunities with the armed forces,” he said. “We’ve done a lot to strengthen our army and navy and they are equipped with modern weaponry.”
He showed the audience a video of how one of the prototype missiles would work, explaining that the new system would have no limitation on range. “It can attack any target, through the North or South Pole, it is a powerful weapon and no missile defense system will be able to withstand,” the president said.
Russia’s military power was built to maintain peace in the world, he argued. However, if anyone fired a nuclear weapon against Russia, he said it would be met with instantaneous retaliation.
Russia’s operations in Syria – supporting the Assad government’s fight against rebels – showed the country’s increased defence capabilities, said the president.
He also said a bridge to the Crimean peninsula would be open within the next couple of months. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, during Mr Putin’s current term in office.
Russia was safeguarding its interest in the Arctic region by strengthening its military infrastructure in the region, he said.
Digital growth was also essential, Mr Vladimir Putin said. He said he wanted Russia to become one of the world’s main hubs for storing and processing big data.
He called for more progress in making robots and artificial intelligence. New talent in technology should be nurtured and foreigners should be encouraged to study in Russia, he said.
All government business would be digitalised “to make it more transparent to fight corruption”, he said.
“Most government officials are good, result-orientated people,” he added, “but these plans will help everyone.”
The first part of the speech was tailored towards working Russians and their concerns.
Mr Vladimir Putin pledged to spend more on roads and reduce accidents. He said teachers deserved good salaries and wages and there should be better access to medical services for people in remote areas.
He also said internet access would be provided to rural populations across the country, “from the far east to the Siberian north”.