03 January 2021 (last updated 03 July 2022)

by Laurie Meadows

The Time Has Come

"I hope that everything that was said today would make any potential aggressor think twice, since unfriendly steps against Russia such as deploying missile defences and bringing NATO infrastructure closer to the Russian border become ineffective in military terms and entail unjustified costs, making them useless for those promoting these initiatives.

It was our duty to inform our partners of what I said here today under the international commitments Russia had subscribed to.

When the time comes, foreign and defence ministry experts will have many opportunities to discuss all these matters with them, if of course our partners so desire."
Vladimir Putin, March 01, 2018

After many years of pleading for talks on re-establishing strategic stability, the Russian Government finally gave up, grabbed the US Govt by the shirtfront, and dragged it to the negotiating table. To no effect.

This is a short note on the background to the crisis.

President Putin's rather long 'state of the nation' speech was mainly about domestic affairs. However one section was devoted to Russia' security. (I have pasted it below, livened up with the liberal use of bolding and color!) In it, he revealed unbeatable weapons developed by Russia in response to the most serious possible threat to the peace and security of the Russian people.

The balance of international security was wrecked in the year 2000 when the US pulled out the cornerstone of security - the US-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) put in place in 1972.

ntercontinental nuclear missiles have a ballistic trajectory, which means they cannot maneuver in flight, making them relatively easy to track and shoot down. In practice, the ABM Treaty confined anti-ballistic missiles to only 1 location in each respective state (Moscow and North Dakota), with a total of only 200 anti-ballistic missiles allowed per state. This meant that if either state launched a nuclear 'first strike' against the other only some of the incoming missiles could be dealt with; in addition a 'pocket' of defended missiles would remain which could launch a counter-strike against the aggressor. This balance of terror, or 'mutually assured destruction', as it came to be called, ensured strategic balance, where neither side could win in a nuclear conflict.

Having pulled out, the US govt. then launched the massive 'star wars' anti-missile' defensive shield project (Strategic Defense Initiative). This would allow the US to launch an 'out of the blue' 'first strike' on Russia or any other country (including China) and be able to shoot down all missiles fired back in response. Russia's nuclear missile defense would be effectively rendered useless. Had the program succeeded (it didn't), the USA would have threat dominance, which would allow the US to dictate the internal affairs of Russia - and particularly, US elite's access to ' investments' in Russian mineral resources and other lucrative businesses.

(Scott Ritter, expert in missile defense treaty compliance, give an excellent overview of the background to the 'star wars' program in this youtube out-take.)

But Russia fundamentally rejects any threats or actions that will, or might, lead to loss of it's sovereignty (the 'supreme interest' of a state).
Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia."
Vladimir Putin, February 20. 2019.
At the time, the US refused to listen to Russia's alarmed concern, claiming the US technically complied with the ABM Treaty - albeit they cut the program back in 1995.

In May 2002 the US and Russia signed the 'Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty ' which directs cuts in the actual deployment of strategic nuclear warheads, but not cuts to stockpiled warheads. Worse, there was no enforcement mechanism. This meant that nuclear warheads remain in storage near Russia, in Germany and Turkey, for example. With no oversight of what happened to them.

Russia countered that they would have to develop an adequate response to what was, in truth, a threat to Russia's very existence. It publicly announced it would develop new weapons systems, hoping that USA would start meaningful talks on establishing a new strategic stability in light of new technologies.

The US said 'do what you want'.

"President Vladimir Putin appeared with the Munich speech in 2007. Everyone who had ears was given the chance to hear. Most didn't seem to hear, but those who did decided that the “rebels” must be taught a lesson. Next, threats were created on the borders of Russia and Belarus as our closest neighbour and ally. We know what followed next."
Sergey Lavrov 23 June 2022

In March 2018 Russia announced the introduction of a series of new missiles with extremely advanced features (
unmatched anywhere).

One, the Kinzhal, with a launch range of 2,000 kilometers, flies at 9 + times the speed of sound, and due to both speed and ability to maneuver in flight, is unstoppable by current air defenses. The Zircon has a range of over 1,000 kilometers, also flies at around 9 times the speed of sound, and is unstoppable when fired in salvos of 2 or more. It was used in a military operation for the first time on 19 March 2022 to destroy Ukrainian a missiles and ammunition depot in south-western Ukraine, 100km from the Romanian border. (This missile may have been chosen because its kinetic energy alone is enough to penetrate hardened concrete.)

Fired from ships or submarines in the west Atlantic, these new Russian missiles could hit any target in the eastern US mainland within 4 or 5 minutes of launch.

The Avangard, is a nuclear ballistic missile carried on an unstoppable hypersonic glide vehicle. The glide vehicle propels the missile at over 20 times the speed of sound. It could reach the US mainland in about 15 minutes from launch from Russia.

"Due to the power-to-weight ratio of the new missile system, the trajectory has the ability to change. From our notorious trajectory through the North Pole, if necessary, it is possible to lay a trajectory through the South Pole, which, in principle, is not protected today. And there are also possibilities for other trajectories - in terms of the possibility of launching into outer space...today, they say that air defense does not exist for the Sarmat missile system, and it probably will not exist in the coming decades"

The Sarmat is a very large (200 tonne) liquid-fueled Intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile which is due to come into service in late 2022. 46 missiles will be produced, and they are expected to form the core of Russian ballistic nuclear deterrence for the next 50 years.

Russia defense policy allows no first use of nuclear weapons. They exist as a deterrent.

Ignoring the new realities (perhaps playing for time to develop it's own hypersonic weapons), in October 2018 the US Government withdrew from the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (in force since 1987). This treaty limited the ability of either party to deploy nuclear-armed conventional ballistic missiles with a range (500-5,500 km) capable of reaching European or Russian capitals. NATO (i.e. the US Govt.) then deployed the Mk-41 missile launch system in Romania, placing missiles within easy reach of Russia. The conventional warheads on these missiles are easily swapped out with nuclear warheads, and no-one would know. Scott Ritter was 'on the ground' around this time and relates the whole story in this out-take.

In spite of this, Russia voluntarily undertook not to deploy nuclear-armed intermediate range missiles, so long as none were deployed against it.

In a bad-faith response, the US Govt. expanded its deployment of intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles to Poland, as well as working to place anti-ballistic missiles in Japan and South Korea.

At the same time, the US released Jens Stoltenberg, the nominal head of NATO, as an attack dog against Russia. His role was to spout a stream of threats against Russia. He turned out to be more chihuahua than elkhound. But, to be fair, he was effective in cutting off all meaningful NATO contact and diplomacy with Russia.

NATO aggressive escalation rolled on. NATO bombers capable of launching nuclear missiles practised nuclear strike drills, flying to within 20 kilometers of Russia's border. NATO has moved it's forces 5 times, country by country, ever closer to Russia's border, in spite of earlier assurances it would move "not one inch east". The frequency of NATO anti-Russia exercises increased dramatically. Threats multiplied.

"...after the end of World War II, when our Western colleagues, led by the United States, declared themselves winners and in violation of the promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership started moving NATO eastward.

They kept saying: “Don’t worry, this is a defensive alliance, it is not a threat to Russian security.” It was a defensive alliance when there were NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, and there was the Berlin Wall, as you remember, both physical and geopolitical. It was very clear what was the “line of defence” for this “defensive alliance.”

When the opponent disappeared, both the Warsaw Treaty disappeared and the Soviet Union disappeared, they decided that they will move the “line of defence eastward.”

They did this five times without explaining against whom they are going to defend themselves, but in the process building up their advanced assault capacities and choosing the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, as the springboard against the Russian interests."
Sergey Lavrov 19 April 2022

Russia's Kalingrad region is already within reach of NATO's artillery. Conversely, Kalingrad is a short (under 4 minutes) hypersonic missile flight to Berlin 527 kilometers away.

US destroyed the intermediate range missile defense agreement.

Russia has developed and deployed a non-nuclear missile deterrence system based on high-precision medium range cruise missiles. The missile types, long range subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic, (
Kalibr and X-101; Onyx; Iskander-Mll by August 1 st,Kinzhal ), places and means of deployment, together allows Russia to strike any target within a radius of 4,000 kilometers. For example, on 21 May 2022 the Kalibr cruise missile (some versions are capable of traveling at nearly 3 times the speed of sound, mach 3, at the terminal phase of flight), was launched from sea to destroy a shipment of US and EU weapons freshly delivered to Ukraine.

Russia's newest unstoppable high precision hypersonic cruise missiles that are now covering all of Europe and the Mediterranean can be loaded with either conventional explosive or nuclear warheads. For now, non-nuclear warheads are used. But there is no verification mechanism. Europe has contemptuously rejected a mutual security treaty with Russia. Yet they have no effective defense against Russian missiles. None. Facing this harsh reality, where is their diplomacy? Are 'sanctions' diplomacy? Who do their politicians work for? The USA or their own people? Are they sovereign nations or 'subjects' of USA?

Biological warfare (prohibited under
The Biological Weapons Convention)

USA Department of Defense has co-run dual-use biological laboratories on Russia border. Amongst other disease monitoring activities, these investigate biting-insect borne diseases, and the possibility of using drones to release insects to 'inoculate' crops via RNA activators delivered by sap sucking insects. It is possible, but far from certain, that Soviet era 'weaponised" anthrax strains may still be held at the older facilities. All this could easily have been done in the USA or in Canada, rather than close to Russia's border. But, in the case of anthrax and other diseases under study, this would create risk to mainland North America.

In addition, if these insects are being made 'dual use', also capable of carrying viruses or RNA signalling molecules affecting humans, whether lethal or incapacitating, this would constitute a 'weapon of mass destruction' under Russian military defense doctrine, and may result in a nuclear response.

Finally, the US and NATO made obvious moves to bring Ukraine into NATO, which, inevitably, would see anti-missile defense systems, if not nuclear weapons, hard up against Russia's border. Missiles placed in Ukraine could reach Moscow within 10 minutes.
"The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, has stated that the SVR had obtained intelligence showing that Ukraine was working on building its own nuclear weapons.

Naryshkin stressed that President Volodymyr Zelensky's threats to abandon the Budapest Agreement were "not an empty promise".
Naryshkin noted that Ukraine has preserved technical potential to create nuclear armaments and that this is higher than those of Iran and North Korea

"Not only did [Russia] know about this, but the Americans also did. At the same time, not only did they not interfere in their plans, but [they] were also ready, as they say, to lend a helping hand to the Ukrainians, apparently hoping that Ukrainian nukes would be aimed not to the west, but to the east"  - Sputnik News 03 March 2022
And Ukraine doesn't necessarily have to be in NATO to constitute an existential threat to Russia. Either a 'NATO - like' treaty with the US or United Kingdom, or simply a gapless 'rotation' of 'training missions' to Ukraine would do. (In this last scenario 'dual citizening' key Western military as well as mercenaries from other countries, no doubt to operate advanced nuclear weapon systems supplied by the west, and US in particular would remain permanently resident in Ukraine.)

Simply put, such an act constitutes a threat to the very existence of the Russian State.

Russia will not allow that.

Russia will allow itself to place a similar threat 4 minutes from Washington.

Alternatively, the US can negotiate terms of a treaty that guarantees everyone's security, without exception.

This is an historic moment, and everybody in power knows it.

If the Treaty succeeds, the USA can go back to the fundamental core duty of all States - looking after the welfare of the citizens.
This doesn't mean the USA will end it's futile (so far) campaign to break up Russia by 'full spectrum domination' across all spheres - cultural, economic, political, and military', it just means it will have to cross 'military' off the list.
It doesn't mean it won't ask Russia for help when it suits USA.
It doesn't mean it won't on rare occasions cooperate with Russia in the UN.
It doesn't mean the USA Govt. will return stolen Russian diplomatic property, or remove its unilateral domestic trade restrictions coercing third parties not to trade with Russia.
It doesn't mean the USA will stop upgrading its nuclear weapons.
It doesn't mean the USA will stop its program to develop hypersonic weapons.

It does mean the nuclear & biological warfare threat is put back in the box and the lid locked.

It does mean both countries can focus their efforts on the real emergency.

Irreversible global warming.

Postscript 21 April 2022: The US and NATO both refused to sign a mutual security treaty based on 'indivisible security', that is, security for all, equally.

NATO trained and equipped Ukrainian forces prepared to 'take back' parts of the Ukrainian territory held by rebels.

The breakaway parts 'ended' the civil war by declaring themselves republics. Russia recognised them.

A mutual defense treaty between Russia and the republics was signed.

The republics asked the armed forces of Ukraine to leave their territory. They didn't.

Ukraine intensified shelling the now independent republics as a prelude to invasion.

Q: What are you hearing intelligence wise?

Blinken: Well, we had, of course, very good information about Russia's planned aggression in the first place, which we shared with the world. A lot of people were skeptical. And it's one of those things where, as I said, I wish we'd been wrong about it, but we were right. ...

"When during the winter of 2021 Biden warned of an 'imminent Russian invasion' of Ukraine he did not know what Russia's plans were. What he did know was that the Ukraine was planning, with U.S. help, for an all out on attack on the Donbas republics in February 2022.

Biden knew that no Russian politician could stand back when that were to happen. When you know on what date a war will start it is of course easy to predict when the response to it will happen.

Starting on February 16 Ukrainian artillery attacks on Donbas increased from a few dozen per day to more than 2,000 per day as was dully noted and reported by the OSCE special observer mission. It were these artillery preparations for a full blown attack that pushed Russia towards the preemptive operation in Ukraine."
Moon of Alabama May 21, 2022

The republics asked Russia for help, in line with the mutual defense treaty.

Russia came to the republics aid with a 'limited military operation', as they put it.

In addition, Russia is forcing Ukraine to come to the negotiating table to sign a peace deal very close to the Minsk agreement that Ukraine spent 8 years avoiding implementing.

On the 20th of April 2022 Russia successfully tested the new silo-based strategic long range Intercontinental missile, the RS-28 Sarmat. The missile can carry many different types of warheads, from nuclear to the unstoppable Avanguard hypersonic glider units.

"My congratulations to you on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile...The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defence.

It has no analogues in the world and will not have any for a long time to come

This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our Armed Forces, reliably ensuring Russia’s security against external threats, and will be a wakeup call for those who are trying to threaten our country in the frenzy of rabid, aggressive rhetoric."
Vladimir Putin, April 20, 2022

In late June 2022, US test of a 'hypersonic' missile failed (yet again). According to Andrei Martyonov, US will be able to create an air-ballistic weapon somewhat similar to Russia's Kinzhal  "relatively soon". But "fully powered-in-flight surface launched anti-shipping and land attack" weapons like the 3M22 Zircon are a completely different technology. In the meantime, Russia will undoubtedly extend it's development of this technology even further.

In other words, the west will eventually have to come to the table. Bear in mind over 900 US politicians (including its current President), propagandists, xenophobes, and military-industrial oligarchs have been permanently banned from Russia.

Whoever the west sends to the table, they will come with blood on their hands from arranging the killing of Russian and Ukrainian servicemen.

They will come guilty of a determined attempt to plunge Russia into domestic misery and chaos.

They will come their inadequacies exposed, their weapons and operations beaten in a real war; beaten in their own unprecedented and global-scale economic war.

They will come head down, meekly, avoiding the eyes of their counterpart. They will come, even after treating Russia's polite and persistent diplomatic approaches with contemptible rude and boorish behaviour. They will come even after they have endlessly vomited propaganda and misinformation about Russia. They will come, even after their frame-ups and false witness against Russia, from MH17 to the Skirpal pantomime of lies.

Yet Russia will still listen to what they have to say. But whatever the west eventually agrees to, it will be bound up in the most stringent and thorough checks and verifications that Russian legal minds can invent. And it will come with painful penalties for non-compliance.

"some reasonable voices have been piercing the Russophobic chorus, with calls to keep in mind that one day they will have to resume dialogue and cooperation. We are ready and we never avoid any contacts. However, we know what the obligations the West assumes are worth, considering the bitter experience with all the lies we have witnessed over the past 30 years, related to European security. We are always open to dialogue. So let us hear what the West has to offer."
Sergey Lavrov 30 June 2022

"In 2014, when it all happened, the EU...imposed sanctions on our country and cancelled the Russia-EU summit planned for June 2014, destroyed every other mechanism that it took us decades to create, such as biannual summits, annual meetings between the Russian Government and the European Commission, four common spaces that underlay four road maps, 20 sector-specific dialogues, including a dialogue on visa-free travel and much more. All of that was ruined overnight. Relations have been non-existent since then.

From now on, we will never trust the Americans or the EU. ...When and if they get over their obsession and come back with some kind of a proposal, we will see what exactly it is about.

We will not play along with their self-serving plans.

If it comes to resuming the dialogue, we will push for a level playing field for everyone and a focus on balancing the interests of all participants on an equal footing.
Sergey Lavrov 30 June 2022


Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.
March 1, 2018

Now, on to the most important defence issue.

I will speak about the newest systems of Russian strategic weapons that we are creating in response to the unilateral withdrawal of the United States of America from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the practical deployment of their missile defence systems both in the US and beyond their national borders.

I would like to make a short journey into the recent past.

Back in 2000, the US announced its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia was categorically against this. We saw the Soviet-US ABM Treaty signed in 1972 as the cornerstone of the international security system. Under this treaty, the parties had the right to deploy ballistic missile defence systems only in one of its regions. Russia deployed these systems around Moscow, and the US around its Grand Forks land-based ICBM base.

Together with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the ABM Treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons, which would have endangered humankind, because the limited number of ballistic missile defence systems made the potential aggressor vulnerable to a response strike.

We did our best to dissuade the Americans from withdrawing from the treaty. All in vain. The US pulled out of the treaty in 2002. Even after that we tried to develop constructive dialogue with the Americans. We proposed working together in this area to ease concerns and maintain the atmosphere of trust.

At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be. All our proposals, absolutely all of them, were rejected.

And then we said that we would have to improve our modern strike systems to protect our security. In reply, the US said that it is not creating a global BMD system against Russia, which is free to do as it pleases, and that the US will presume that our actions are not spearheaded against the US.

The reasons behind this position are obvious. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia, which was known as the Soviet Union or Soviet Russia abroad, lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 of the GDP, 39.4 percent of its industrial potential (nearly half of our potential, I would underscore), as well as 44.6 percent of its military capability due to the division of the Soviet Armed Forces among the former Soviet republics. The military equipment of the Russian army was becoming obsolete, and the Armed Forces were in a sorry state. A civil war was raging in the Caucasus, and US inspectors oversaw the operation of our leading uranium enrichment plants.

For a certain time, the question was not whether we would be able to develop a strategic weapon system – some wondered if our country would even be able to safely store and maintain the nuclear weapons that we inherited after the collapse of the USSR. Russia had outstanding debts, its economy could not function without loans from the IMF and the World Bank; the social sphere was impossible to sustain.

Apparently, our partners got the impression that it was impossible in the foreseeable historical perspective for our country to revive its economy, industry, defence industry and Armed Forces to levels supporting the necessary strategic potential. And if that is the case, there is no point in reckoning with Russia’s opinion, it is necessary to further pursue ultimate unilateral military advantage in order to dictate the terms in every sphere in the future.

Basically, this position, this logic, judging from the realities of that period, is understandable, and we ourselves are to blame. All these years, the entire 15 years since the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we have consistently tried to re-engage the American side in serious discussions, in reaching agreements in the sphere of strategic stability.

We managed to accomplish some of these goals. In 2010, Russia and the US signed the New START treaty, containing measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. However, in light of the plans to build a global anti-ballistic missile system, which are still being carried out today, all agreements signed within the framework of New START are now gradually being devaluated, because while the number of carriers and weapons is being reduced, one of the parties, namely, the US, is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.

Despite our numerous protests and pleas, the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyer belt is moving forward. There are new missile defence systems installed in Alaska and California; as a result of NATO’s expansion to the east, two new missile defence areas were created in Western Europe: one has already been created in Romania, while the deployment of the system in Poland is now almost complete. Their range will keep increasing; new launching areas are to be created in Japan and South Korea. The US global missile defence system also includes five cruisers and 30 destroyers, which, as far as we know, have been deployed to regions in close proximity to Russia’s borders. I am not exaggerating in the least; and this work proceeds apace.

So, what have we done, apart from protesting and warning? How will Russia respond to this challenge? This is how.

During all these years since the unilateral US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, we have been working intensively on advanced equipment and arms, which allowed us to make a breakthrough in developing new models of strategic weapons.

Let me recall that the United States is creating a global missile defence system primarily for countering strategic arms that follow ballistic trajectories. These weapons form the backbone of our nuclear deterrence forces, just as of other members of the nuclear club.

As such, Russia has developed, and works continuously to perfect, highly effective but modestly priced systems to overcome missile defence. They are installed on all of our intercontinental ballistic missile complexes

In addition, we have embarked on the development of the next generation of missiles. For example, the Defence Ministry and enterprises of the missile and aerospace industry are in the active phase of testing a new missile system with a heavy intercontinental missile. We called it Sarmat.

Sarmat will replace the Voevoda system made in the USSR. Its immense power was universally recognized. Our foreign colleagues even gave it a fairly threatening name.

That said, the capabilities of the Sarmat missile are much higher. Weighing over 200 tonnes, it has a short boost phase, which makes it more difficult to intercept for missile defence systems. The range of the new heavy missile, the number and power of its combat blocs is bigger than Voevoda’s. Sarmat will be equipped with a broad range of powerful nuclear warheads, including hypersonic, and the most modern means of evading missile defence. The high degree of protection of missile launchers and significant energy capabilities the system offers will make it possible to use it in any conditions.

Could you please show the video.

(Video plays.)

Voevoda’s range is 11,000 km while Sarmat has practically no range restrictions.

As the video clips show, it can attack targets both via the North and South poles.

Sarmat is a formidable missile and, owing to its characteristics, is untroubled by even the most advanced missile defence systems.

But we did not stop at that. We started to develop new types of strategic arms that do not use ballistic trajectories at all when moving toward a target and, therefore, missile defence systems are useless against them, absolutely pointless.

Allow me to elaborate on these weapons.

Russia’s advanced arms are based on the cutting-edge, unique achievements of our scientists, designers and engineers. One of them is a small-scale heavy-duty nuclear energy unit that can be installed in a missile like our latest X-101 air-launched missile or the American Tomahawk missile – a similar type but with a range dozens of times longer, dozens, basically an unlimited range. It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries. It is invincible against all existing and prospective missile defence and counter-air defence systems. I will repeat this several times today.

In late 2017, Russia successfully launched its latest nuclear-powered missile at the Central training ground. During its flight, the nuclear-powered engine reached its design capacity and provided the necessary propulsion.

Now that the missile launch and ground tests were successful, we can begin developing a completely new type of weapon, a strategic nuclear weapons system with a nuclear-powered missile.

Roll the video, please.

(Video plays.)

You can see how the missile bypasses interceptors. As the range is unlimited, the missile can manoeuvre for as long as necessary.

As you no doubt understand, no other country has developed anything like this. There will be something similar one day but by that time our guys will have come up with something even better.

Now, we all know that the design and development of unmanned weapon systems is another common trend in the world. As concerns Russia, we have developed unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest. It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly manoeuvrable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.

Unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.

In December 2017, an innovative nuclear power unit for this unmanned underwater vehicle completed a test cycle that lasted many years. The nuclear power unit is unique for its small size while offering an amazing power-weight ratio. It is a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster.

The tests that were conducted enabled us to begin developing a new type of strategic weapon that would carry massive nuclear ordnance.

Please play the video.

(Video plays.)

By the way, we have yet to choose names for these two new strategic weapons, the global-range cruise missile and the unmanned underwater vehicle. We are waiting for suggestions from the Defence Ministry.

Countries with high research potential and advanced technology are known to be actively developing so-called hypersonic weapons. The speed of sound is usually measured in Mach numbers in honour of Austrian scientist Ernst Mach who is known for his research in this field. One Mach is equal to 1,062 kilometres per hour at an altitude of 11 kilometres. The speed of sound is Mach 1, speeds between Mach 1 and Mach 5 is called supersonic, and hypersonic is above Mach 5. Of course, this kind of weapon provides substantial advantages in an armed conflict. Military experts believe that it would be extremely powerful, and that its speed makes it invulnerable to current missile and air defence systems, since interceptor missiles are, simply put, not fast enough. In this regard, it is quite understandable why the leading armies of the world seek to possess such an ideal weapon.

Friends, Russia already has such a weapon.

The most important stage in the development of modern weapons systems was the creation of a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system; as you already know for sure, it is the only one of its kind in the world. Its tests have been successfully completed, and, moreover, on December 1 of last year, these systems began their trial service at the airfields of the Southern Military District.

The unique flight characteristics of the high-speed carrier aircraft allow the missile to be delivered to the point of discharge within minutes.

The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2,000 kilometres. We called this system Kinzhal (Dagger).

Video, please.

(Video plays.)

But this is not all I have to say.

A real technological breakthrough is the development of a strategic missile system with fundamentally new combat equipment – a gliding wing unit, which has also been successfully tested.

I will say once again what we have repeatedly told our American and European partners who are NATO members: we will make the necessary efforts to neutralise the threats posed by the deployment of the US global missile defence system. We mentioned this during talks, and even said it publicly.

Back in 2004, after the exercises of the strategic nuclear forces when the system was tested for the first time, I said the following at a meeting with the press (It is embarrassing to quote myself, but it is the right thing to say here):

So, I said: “As other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, Russia will also need to ensure it has new generation weapons and technology.

In this respect, I am pleased to inform you that successfully completed experiments during these exercises enable us to confirm that in the near future, the Russian Armed Forces, the Strategic Missile Forces, will receive new hypersonic-speed, high-precision new weapons systems that can hit targets at inter-continental distance and can adjust their altitude and course as they travel. This is a very significant statement because no country in the world as of now has such arms in their military arsenal.” End of quote.

Of course, every word has a meaning because we are talking about the possibility of bypassing interception boundaries. Why did we do all this?

Why did we talk about it? As you can see, we made no secret of our plans and spoke openly about them, primarily to encourage our partners to hold talks. Let me repeat, this was in 2004.

It is actually surprising that despite all the problems with the economy, finances and the defence industry, Russia has remained a major nuclear power.

No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now.

Unlike existing types of combat equipment, this system is capable of intercontinental flight at supersonic speeds in excess of Mach 20.

As I said in 2004, in moving to its target, the missile’s gliding cruise bloc engages in intensive manoeuvring – both lateral (by several thousand km) and vertical. This is what makes it absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defence system. The use of new composite materials has made it possible to enable the gliding cruise bloc to make a long-distance guided flight practically in conditions of plasma formation. It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire. The temperature on its surface reaches 1,600–2,000 degrees Celsius but the cruise bloc is reliably guided.

Play the video, please.

(Video plays).

For obvious reasons we cannot show the outer appearance of this system here. This is still very important. I hope everyone understands this. But let me assure you that we have all this and it is working well. Moreover, Russian industrial enterprises have embarked on the development of another new type of strategic weapon. We called it the Avangard.

We are well aware that a number of other countries are developing advanced weapons with new physical properties. We have every reason to believe that we are one step ahead there as well – at any rate, in the most essential areas.

We have achieved significant progress in laser weapons. It is not just a concept or a plan any more. It is not even in the early production stages. Since last year, our troops have been armed with laser weapons.

I do not want to reveal more details. It is not the time yet. But experts will understand that with such weaponry, Russia’s defence capacity has multiplied.

Here is another short video.

(Video plays.)

.Those interested in military equipment are welcome to suggest a name for this new weaponry, this cutting-edge system.

Of course, we will be refining this state-of-the-art technology. Obviously, there is far more in development than I have mentioned today. But this is enough for now.

I want to specifically emphasise that the newly developed strategic arms – in fact, new types of strategic weapons – are not the result of something left over from the Soviet Union. Of course, we relied on some ideas from our ingenious predecessors. But everything I have described today is the result of the last several years, the product of dozens of research organisations, design bureaus and institutes.

Thousands, literally thousands of our experts, outstanding scientists, designers, engineers, passionate and talented workers have been working for years, quietly, humbly, selflessly, with total dedication. There are many young professionals among them. They are our true heroes, along with our military personnel who demonstrated the best qualities of the Russian army in combat. I want to address each of them right now and say that there will absolutely be awards, prizes and honorary titles but, because I have met many of you in person many times, I know you are not after awards. The most important thing is to reliably ensure the security of our country and our people. As President and on behalf of the Russian people, I want to say thank you very much for your hard work and its results. Our country needs them so much.

As I have already said, all future military products are based on remarkable advances that can, should and will be used in high-technology civilian sectors. I would like to stress that only a country with the highest level of fundamental research and education, developed research, technology, industrial infrastructure and human resources can successfully develop unique and complex weapons of this kind. You can see that Russia has all these resources.

We will expand this potential and focus on delivering on the ambitious goals our country has set itself in terms of economic, social and infrastructure development. Effective defence will serve as a guarantee of Russia’s long-term development.

Let me reiterate that each of the armament systems I referred to is uniquely important. Even more importantly, taken together all these advances enable the Defence Ministry and General Staff to develop a comprehensive defence system, in which every piece of new military equipment will be assigned a proper role. On top of strategic weapons that are currently on combat alert and benefit from regular updates, Russia will have a defence capability that would guarantee its security in the long term.

Of course, there are many things that we have to do in terms of military construction, but one thing is already clear: Russia possesses a modern, high-technology army that is quite compact given the size of the territory, centred on the officer corps, who are dedicated to their country and are ready to sacrifice anything for its people.

Sooner or later, other armies will also have the technology, the weapons, even the most advanced ones. But this does not worry us, since we already have it and will have even better armaments in the future. What matters is that they will never have people or officers like the Russian pilot Major Roman Filipov.

I hope that everything that was said today would make any potential aggressor think twice, since unfriendly steps against Russia such as deploying missile defences and bringing NATO infrastructure closer to the Russian border become ineffective in military terms and entail unjustified costs, making them useless for those promoting these initiatives.

It was our duty to inform our partners of what I said here today under the international commitments Russia had subscribed to. When the time comes, foreign and defence ministry experts will have many opportunities to discuss all these matters with them, if of course our partners so desire.

For my part, I should note that we have conducted the work to reinforce Russia's defence capability within the current arms control agreements; we are not violating anything. I should specifically say that Russia's growing military strength is not a threat to anyone; we have never had any plans to use this potential for offensive, let alone aggressive goals.

We are not threatening anyone, not going to attack anyone or take away anything from anyone with the threat of weapons.

 We do not need anything. Just the opposite. I deem it necessary to emphasise (and it is very important) that Russia's growing military power is a solid guarantee of global peace as this power preserves and will preserve strategic parity and the balance of forces in the world, which, as is known, have been and remain a key factor of international security after WWII and up to the present day.

And to those who in the past 15 years have tried to accelerate an arms race and seek unilateral advantage against Russia, have introduced restrictions and sanctions that are illegal from the standpoint of international law aiming to restrain our nation's development, including in the military area, I will say this: everything you have tried to prevent through such a policy has already happened. No one has managed to restrain Russia.

Now we have to be aware of this reality and be sure that everything I have said today is not a bluff ‒ and it is not a bluff, believe me ‒ and to give it a thought and dismiss those who live in the past and are unable to look into the future, to stop rocking the boat we are all in and which is called the Earth.

In this connection, I would like to note the following. We are greatly concerned by certain provisions of the revised nuclear posture review, which expand the opportunities for reducing and reduce the threshold for the use of nuclear arms. Behind closed doors, one may say anything to calm down anyone, but we read what is written. And what is written is that this strategy can be put into action in response to conventional arms attacks and even to a cyber-threat.

I should note that our military doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state.

This all is very clear and specific.

As such, I see it is my duty to announce the following. Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, weapons of short, medium or any range at all, will be considered as a nuclear attack on this country. Retaliation will be immediate, with all the attendant consequences.

There should be no doubt about this whatsoever. There is no need to create more threats to the world. Instead, let us sit down at the negotiating table and devise together a new and relevant system of international security and sustainable development for human civilisation. We have been saying this all along. All these proposals are still valid. Russia is ready for this.

Our policies will never be based on claims to exceptionalism. We protect our interests and respect the interests of other countries.

We observe international law and believe in the inviolable central role of the UN.

These are the principles and approaches that allow us to build strong, friendly and equal relations with the absolute majority of countries

Our comprehensive strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China is one example. Russia and India also enjoy a special privileged strategic relationship. Our relations with many other countries in the world are entering a new dynamic stage.

Russia is widely involved in international organisations. With our partners, we are advancing such associations and groups as the CSTO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS. We are promoting a positive agenda at the UN, G20 and APEC. We are interested in normal and constructive cooperation with the United States and the European Union. We hope that common sense will prevail and our partners will opt for honest and equal work together.

Even if our views clash on some issues, we still remain partners because we must work together to respond to the most complex challenges, ensure global security, and build the future world, which is becoming increasingly interconnected, with more and more dynamic integration processes.

Russia and its partners in the Eurasian Economic Union seek to make it a globally competitive integration group. The EAEU’s agenda includes building a common market for electricity, oil, petroleum products and gas, harmonising financial markets, and linking our customs authorities. We will also continue to work on a greater Eurasian partnership.

Colleagues, this is a turning period for the entire world and those who are willing and able to change, those who are taking action and moving forward will take the lead. Russia and its people have expressed this will at every defining moment in our history. In just 30 years, we have undergone changes that took centuries in other countries.

Index of Laurie Meadows articles on Security