Vladimir Putin says Russia’s new weapons have no foreign equivalents and will help ensure the country’s security for decades to come.

The Russian president, speaking during a meeting with military chiefs in Moscow, specifically mentioned the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, saying they have significantly bolstered Russia’s military capability.

Kinzhal 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.

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.

“It has probably made our partners worry, but it doesn’t violate the INF treaty,” Mr Putin said.

He said the treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev did not limit sea and air-launched cruise missiles, which the Soviet Union did not have at the time and the US did in significant numbers.

The Russian president argued that the pact represented “unilateral disarmament” for the Soviet Union, adding: “God only knows why the Soviet leadership did it.”

He emphasised that with Russian strategic bombers and navy ships now armed with long-range cruise missiles, it makes the development of similar land-based weapons redundant.

“It makes no difference whatsoever if we have a Kalibr-armed submarine or aircraft carrying missiles or similar weapons ashore,” he said. “We can strike any targets within the range of 4,500 kilometres from the territory of Russia.”

He added, however, that Russia could easily build such land-based missiles if the US opts out of the INF, which he described as a key stabilising factor.

“If we have similar air and sea-launched systems, it wouldn’t be that difficult for us to do some research and development to put them on land if needed,” he said.

Source: www.independent.ie