Is a second Cold War coming? According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it could be. During his annual state of the union address in Moscow, Putin claimed that Russia has developed new intercontinental nuclear weapons that cannot be shot down by U.S. anti-ballistic defenses.
During his speech, Putin said the new weapons have been developed as a result of the United States pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty. Russia has repeatedly warned Washington not to go ahead with anti-missile systems, he said, but “nobody listened.”
Further, Putin said Russia would not hesitate to respond with a nuclear strike:
“Our nuclear doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against her or her allies, or a conventional attack against us that threatens the very existence of the state.”
“It is my duty to state this: Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, be it small-scale, medium-scale or any other scale, will be treated as a nuclear attack on our country. The response will be instant and with all the relevant consequences.”
During his speech, a video ominously played footage of the weapons, including an animation of missiles striking the United States.
“Efforts to contain Russia have failed, face it,” Putin proclaimed.
The existence of new weapons systems like the RS-28 Sarmat were well known, but this was the first time since 2001 that Putin portrayed their development as an adversarial response to U.S. policy.
President Trump stated during his State of the Union address that he will “modernize and rebuild” the U.S. nuclear arsenal, vowing to make it “so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else.”
It seems, then, that Putin is simply attempting to flex his muscle in response. But, as Trump has shown in his dealings with North Korea, he won’t be intimidated into backing down.
Do you trust Trump to make the right decisions regarding U.S. nuclear policy? Are you at all concerned about Russia’s nuclear power? Share your thoughts and comments below!