Russian leader Vladimir Putin has declared that his new range of nuclear-capable missiles is on “combat duty,” but denied that his aggressive military expansion amounted to a second Cold War.
In an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, the strongman declared that his newly developed arsenal of missiles would mean additional military spending by the Trump administration “has been thrown out into the wind.”
“Every single weapons system that I have discussed today easily surpasses and avoids a missile defense system,” Putin said. “[But] some of them still have to be fine-tuned and worked on. Others are already available to the troops and battle-ready.”
“All of those tests were successful,” he continued. “It’s just each of these weapons systems are at a different stage of readiness. One of them is already on combat duty. It’s available to the troops.”
The interview took place just a day after Putin announced a new array of military weapons including a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and a new hypersonic missile that he claims are unparalleled in strength and would render any NATO missile defense system “useless.”
The build-up of both America’s and Russia’s military capabilities has led to claims by former Obama administration chief of staff at the U.S. Defense Department Jeremy Bash that Russia’s rise “could spark a new Cold War.”
However, Putin dismissed such claims as “propaganda,” adding that he had offered to work together with the U.S. but his advances had been rebuffed.
“My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not analysts,” he said. “They do propaganda.”
“Instead of creating threats to one another, great powers should pool their efforts in protecting against terrorists,” he added.
Since his announcement, U.S. officials have claimed that such weapons may in fact not yet be operational and Putin is instead trying to attract domestic support in the run-up to this month’s presidential election.
Putin is widely expected to win the upcoming election, although opponents have raised concerns over its democratic legitimacy.
Seven candidates are currently running against Putin, although many face allegations that they are in fact part of a ‘controlled opposition’ tasked with ensuring Putin’s return to power for a further six years.
This was the second interview that Putin has given Megyn Kelly, who last June debuted her newsmagazine show Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly with the Russian leader, grilling him on multiple Democratic-led conspiracies surrounding government connections to Russia.