By Jason Lemon On 7/19/18 at 11:05 AM
Russia has tested “invincible” hypersonic missiles as President Vladimir Putin warned that a nuclear treaty with the U.S. will expire.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced the missile test, The Moscow Times reported Friday, and also announced that it is gearing up to test “fine-tuned” and “unlimited-range” nuclear-powered cruise missiles. Ahead of his re-election in March, Putin revealed the development of a range of new weapons that would be capable of “circumventing” those of the U.S.
Now the new hypersonic Kinzhal missiles have been tested, showing a significantly increased range from about 1,200 miles to more than 1,800 miles. According to media reports, the hypersonic missiles have been tested at least three times. The Russian Defense Ministry also posted a video of a missile test to Facebook on Thursday.
As for the “unlimited-range” nuclear missiles, the ministry told reporters Friday that “ground tests continue” as preparations are made for aerial tests, according to Russian news agency Tass. The missile is “low-flying,” carries a nuclear warhead and is difficult to observe, the ministry explained. It has “an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and [the] capability to bypass interception lines.”
According to the ministry, the weapon “is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems.”
“Launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon—a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear-powered missile,” the ministry also noted.
The announcements come as Putin has warned that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the U.S. is set to expire. START I was first signed in July 1991 between the former Soviet Union and the U.S. It entered into force in 1994, aiming to regulate both powers strategic offensive arms through limitations and reduction.
Trump and Putin have said they discussed their countries’ respective nuclear arsenals during a controversial summit in Helsinki on Monday. Following the meeting, the Russian Defense Ministry said it is “ready for practical implementation of the agreements in the sphere of international security,” including START.
However, Trump has faced a wave of backlash following the meeting, with lawmakers across party lines criticizing his actions and statements. In a joint press conference with Putin, the president suggested that he trusts the Russian leader’s assurances over those of U.S. intelligence services. Since then, Trump has walked back from those comments, with the White House insisting that he simply misspoke.
On Thursday morning, Trump once again praised his meeting with the Russian leader, calling it a “great success” in a Twitter post. He blamed the “fake news media” as the “real enemy of the people,” suggesting news outlets misrepresented the summit. “We can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including … nuclear proliferation,” the president tweeted.
Russian and U.S. negotiations over nuclear arsenals also came on the heels of reports suggesting Moscow has moved to upgrade some of its nuclear facilities. Satellite images appear to show that Russia has expanded a storage facility in its Kaliningrad enclave, a document released last month by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) revealed.