In his state of the nation speech, the Russian president said a newly developed nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last year has a "practically unlimited" range, high speed and is easily manoeuvred.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia on March 1, 2018.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia on March 1, 2018. (Reuters)

Russia has tested an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that can't be intercepted, President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday, marking a technological breakthrough that could dramatically increase Russia's military capability, boost the Kremlin's global position and open a new round in the global arms race.

Speaking in a state of the nation speech, Putin said the weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world. 

He 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," he said. 

"You have failed to contain Russia."

Pentagon "fully prepared"

The Pentagon brushed off Putin's boast of developing "invincible" missiles, claiming the United States was fully prepared for anything that might come its way.

"We are not surprised by (Putin's) statement, and the American people should rest assured that we are fully prepared," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

White said she was "very confident" in America's ability to react to "anything that may come our way." 

"We are prepared and we are ready," she said.

Putin's announcement comes as he is set to easily win another six-year presidential term in the March 18 election.

He said that the nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last fall has a "practically unlimited" range and high speed and manoeuvrability, allowing it to pierce any missile defence.

The Russian leader said the high-speed underwater drone also has an "intercontinental" range and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities. He said its operational depth and high speed would make it immune to enemy intercept.

Putin noted that the tests of the compact nuclear reactor to power the new drone were completed last fall.

He added, to applause, that names for the nuclear-powered cruise missile and the drone hadn't yet been chosen, and suggested that the Defence Ministry run a nationwide contest for the best names.

TRT World spoke to Moscow-based journalist Julia Lyubova for more on the story.

New ballistic missile

Putin accompanied his statement to an audience of hundreds of senior officials and lawmakers with videos and computer images of new weapons, which were shown on giant screens at a conference hall near the Kremlin.

"No one in the world has anything like that," he said. "It may appear someday, but by that time we will develop something new."

The Russian leader said that another new weapon called Avangard is an intercontinental hypersonic missile that would fly to targets at a speed 20 times the speed of sound and strike "like a meteorite, like a fireball."

Putin said that Russia also tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, called Sarmat, with a range and number of warheads exceeding its Soviet-era predecessor, known in the West as Satan.

TRT World spoke to nuclear expert Miles Pomper on the validity of Russia's claims. 

The Russian leader emphasised that the development of new weapons that have no equivalent in the West came in response to the US withdrawal from a Cold war-era treaty banning missile defences and US efforts to develop a missile defence system.

He said that the US has ignored Russian complaints.

"No one has listened to us," he said. "You listen to us now."

He said the new weapons would help ensure global stability and draw a line under attempts to weaken Russia.

He said that another weapons system, called Kinzhal, already has been deployed in Russia's Southern Military District. He said it's a hypersonic missile carried by an aircraft that can strike targets 2,000 kilometres away.

Source: AP