President Vladimir Putin says Russia has tested a new “invincible” nuclear weapon that could reach almost any point in the world and is immune to anti-missile systems.
Speaking at Russia’s annual state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, Mr Putin said Moscow had tested a high-speed underwater drone that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead capable of targetting both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities.
He also said Russia had developed a missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed.
The Russian President said the creation of the new weapons has made NATO’s US-led missile defence “useless”, and means an effective end to what he described as Western efforts to stymie Russia’s development.
“I want to tell all those who have fuelled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Mr Putin said.
“You have failed to contain Russia.”
The announcement came with a stern warning to the US, which Mr Putin says is “violating the strategic balance,” and “Russia in response is creating new systems”.
“We would consider any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country. The response would be immediate,” he said.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) executive director Beatrice Fihn said Russia’s readiness to use these new weapons marks the beginning of a “new arms race”.
“Putin’s statement makes it clear we are in a new arms race that will put us under the terror of a new Cold War, in constant fear of death at any instant,” she said.
“While Russia and the US compare the size of their arsenals, the rest of the world is joining a treaty that bans them.”
Mr Putin also said Russia had tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), called Sarmat, with “practically unlimited” range and a number of warheads exceeding the capabilities of its predecessor.
Mr Putin accused the US of violating the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty before presenting videos of Russia’s new Sarmat ballistic missile and other advanced weapons to roars of applause.
He said the missile had 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”.
Mr Putin said that the US has ignored Russian complaints.
“Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody listened to us,” he said.
“You listen to us now.”
Mr Putin, who has served as president or prime minister for nearly two decades, is widely expected to win another six-year term as Russian president on March 18.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has been banned from taking part in the election, has called for the vote to be boycotted as believes it will not be fair.