Russia 'Forced' To Create Hypersonic Missiles After US Exited Landmark Treaty: Putin

Vladimir Putin has blamed the United States for Russia's development of hypersonic weapons, saying specifically it was ultimately Washington's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002 which triggered the experimental defense technology program. 

As the name suggests, it was an arms limitation and reduction treaty brokered with the Soviet Union which regulated the anti-ballistic missile systems used in defending areas against ballistic missile-delivered nuclear weapons.

Putin said during a televised address on Saturday: “The withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 forced Russia to start developing hypersonic weapons. We had to create these weapons in response to the deployment of the US strategic missile defense system, which was capable to actually neutralize, reset our entire nuclear potential in the future,” according to Russia's Sputnik.

Image via RIA Novosti

Interestingly the timing and blame-game nature of Putin's statements come a little over a year after the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF. It also comes as the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty is on the chopping block as well, amid ongoing negotiations. 

“I have repeatedly said that for decades we had to constantly catch up, as you know very well. At first, this applied to nuclear weapons, then long-range strategic aviation, and then intercontinental missile technology, which specialists call the means of delivery,” Putin stated.

“And now, for the first time in our modern history, Russia has the most modern types of weapons that are many times superior in strength, power, speed, and, most importantly, accuracy to anything that existed and exists today. No one in the world has such a weapon. Not yet, anyway,” the Russian president said.

Russian MiG-31 fighter jet releases a Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a test in Russia. Image source: RU-RTR Russian Television via AP

The remarks were on the occasion of honoring the scientist and engineer responsible for the success of Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle program, Gerbert Efremov.

Addressing Efremov, Putin said, “Today, the implementation of your idea can undoubtedly be compared to the implementation of the Soviet Union’s nuclear and missile projects, which were carried out by outstanding Soviet scientists [Igor] Kurchatov and [Sergey] Korolev,” Putin said.

Over the past couple years Russia has unveiled multiple cutting edge strategic weapons systems which are at various stages of development and testing.