Russia unveiled half a dozen cutting edge strategic weapons systems, including the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile and the ICBM-launched Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, in 2018, in response to US efforts to build a missile shield, and the general beefing up of NATO forces on Russia’s western borders.
Russia had no choice but to pursue the development of nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons systems in the aftermath of the Bush administration’s 2002 decision to tear up the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Treaty, which prohibited the creation of missile defences, President Vladimir Putin has said.
“America’s withdrawl from the ABM 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 defence system, which in the future would have been able to neutralize and render obsolete our entire nuclear potential,” Putin said, speaking to Gerbert Efremov, honorary general director and designer of the legendary NPO Mashinostroyenia rocket design bureau on Saturday.
Putin emphasized that it was thanks largely to Efremov and his colleagues that the United States was unable to realize its ambitions.
“I have said many times that for decades, we constantly had to play catch-up. You know this very well. This concerned nuclear weapons, and then long-range strategic aviation and intercontinental ballistic missile technology, or what experts call delivery vehicles,” Putin said.