Posted on December 20, 2018
Speaking during a meeting with military chiefs in Moscow, Mr Putin mentioned the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which he says have significantly bolstered Russia’s military capability. The Kinzhal missile has already been commissioned by the military. Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said aircraft carrying the missiles have flown 89 patrol missions this year. Mr Shoigu said the Avangard will enter service next year.
Mr Putin said Moscow would have to respond to the planned US withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). He reaffirmed a strong denial of Washington’s claim that Russia had violated the pact, and blamed the US for breaking it. The INF is a deal signed in 1987 between Russia (then the USSR) and the United States to significantly cut the nuclear weapons capabilities of both sides around Europe.
Earlier this month, Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff accused Russia of being in violation of the treaty. Mr Putin also rejected the US claim that Russia had developed a new cruise missile in violation of the INF, arguing that Moscow 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 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 300 to 3,400 miles. Mr Putin said the Russian military has successfully tested air-launched Kh-101 and sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles with a range of 2,790 miles in combat in Syria.