Russian President Vladimir Putin is known for his aggressive rhetoric against the West, but he took it to a whole new level recently while unveiling new Russian missiles which he claimed will ensure Russia's nuclear dominance.
Speaking before Russian members of parliament, Putin boasted that Russia's nuclear arsenal is unmatched and cannot be stopped by any defenses currently fielded by the U.S. and NATO.
"Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody listened to us," said Putin, who was met with jubilant applause from the crowd. "Listen to us now."
To drive home his point, Putin showed the crowd a video of some new Russian missile technology, including a new hyper sonic intercontinental ballistic missile. Using a mix of animation and real footage, the video showed how the missile could effectively strike any target on the globe. It's hypersonic capability would allegedly help it move so fast, that it would be well on its way to its target before it could be intercepted.
If Putin's claims are true, that could be a problem for U.S. deterrent capabilities. Intercepting a missile is often easiest just after launch. If Russia's hyper sonic missile is as fast as Putin claims, that leaves a very small window for the U.S. should the worst happen.
Putin's video showed the missile traveling near outer space before dropping its payload of several nuclear warheads on what appeared to be the state of Florida. He also claimed that Russia has developed a new type of cruise missile, which uses nuclear propulsion technology. Such a capability would give the missile effectively unlimited range. Putin also claimed that the missile's maneuverability would easily defeat any missile defense systems.
"President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known all along, which Russia has denied," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a press briefing on Thursday. "Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems for a decade, in violation of its treaty obligations."
Indeed, U.S. Defense officials have been keeping an eye on Russia's rapidly advancing missile technology for some time. Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, warned the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of Russia's dangerous advances in missile tech.
"Russia has priortized the development of advanced cruise missiles capable of holding targets within North America at risk from distances no previously seen," said Robinson in her testimony. "These systems present an increasing threat to North America due to their long range, low radar cross section, and the limited indications and warnings likely to be seen prior to a combat launch."
When asked about the new developments, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told Circa that Russia is once again a top concern when it comes to U.S. defense.
"I think that the national defense strategy makes very clear... that we are back in an era of great power competition, and there are two threats we need to primarily focus on, and that's China and Russia," said Wilson.
The Trump administration's hopes its new $700 billion dollar defense budget will help address this new era. Among several other projects, it aims to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which has been decaying as Russia's has advanced.