In his first major public address since the US formally pulled out of the INF arms-control treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia would point its new arsenal of hypersonic missiles - which can purportedly bypass NATO's ABM systems - directly at the US if it dares to reintroduce ground-based intermediate-range missiles to Europe.
According to Fox, Putin threatened to deploy Russia’s new Zircon missiles, which Putin said can fly at nine times the speed of sound and carry a range of 620 miles and are part of the country's drive to upgrade its defensive capabilities against an increasingly aggressive US and NATO.
Putin also took a few moments to praise Russia's weapons program, comparing the new Avangard hypersonic missile - which Russia infamously tested on the day after Christmas, sending a shiver of alarm through Western intelligence and defense analysts - to the 1957 launch of Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite, which was built by the Soviet Union. The weapon has demonstrated that Russia has the technological capabilities to surpass the US, according to RT.
And in another warning that, if true, will likely aggravate the US defense community, Putin revealed that Russia has been carrying out successful tests of its Burevestnik cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone.
"It seemed until recently that Russia can't make a breakthrough in defense technologies, but we made it," Putin said.
Though Russia won't deploy weapons preemptively, Putin said that if the US does place weapons in Europe, Russia will deliver an "asymmetric" response and target not only the host countries of those weapons, but "decision-making center" in the US (presumably Washington).
Still, Putin said he's hoping the US and Russia can work out their differences.
"We don't want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US."
With the US and Europe reportedly close to agreeing on a fresh raft of sanctions against Russia (just in time for the Mueller report), Putin also criticized what he described as a "destructive" US policy of targeting Russia.
Moving on from national security-related issues, Putin also spoke about plans to increase welfare spending and embark on public works projects. As reports have shown that his popularity in the Russian hinterlands has taken a hit in response to a controversial plan to ship Moscow's garbage to Siberia, Putin promised improved healthcare and education spending, while promising to upgrade 60 airports during the coming year.