Mr Putin said: “Russia’s open to improving relations and collaborations with all the partners, we are not a threat to anyone, we don’t want to impose our point of view on anyone. The Russian leader spoke in front of heads of the country’s political, economic and religious institutions where he pointed out that the latest developments in advanced weaponry has ensured Russia’s defence capability for decades to come but “should not rest on laurels and relax”. This claim sees Russia for the first time in history becoming the world’s leader in advanced weapons.

In his annual State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Putin added: “We are not threatening anyone and are not seeking to impose our will.

“At the same time, I can assure everyone that our steps for strengthening national security were made timely and in a sufficient amount.

“For the first time, let me stress, for the first time in the entire history of the existence of missile and nuclear weapons, including the Soviet period and present-day history, we are not catching up with anyone and, on the contrary, other leading countries of the world will still have to develop weapons, which Russia already possesses.

“It is necessary to move forward attentively, watching and analysing all that is taking place in this sphere in the world, developing combat complexes and future-generation systems.

“This is what we are doing today.”

By far Russia’s major military development is its new hypersonic missile.

The device is capable of striking the US mainland in 15 minutes with devastating payloads, could kickstart an arms race not seen since the height of the Cold War as the strategic arsenals treaty between the US and Russia is soon to expire.

The awesome Avangard weapon travels at Mach 27 and is designed to take out US ballistic missile defences ahead of a wider attack.

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Russia’s first regiment of Avangard missiles was commissioned in the Urals region of Orenberg, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on 27 December, days after President Putin boasted that the new weapon could penetrate any defensive shield.

Unlike traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles, which boost their nuclear warheads high into low-Earth orbit and then send them streaking down toward their targets, Avangard uses the ICBM booster to reach an altitude of just 62 miles, or a third of low-Earth orbit.

Once at altitude, Avangard zooms down toward its target at Mach 27, or 20,716 miles per hour.

The 2010 New START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the two former cold war enemies is due to expire in February 2021, but treaties designed to limit the power of the US and Russia have a history of being confined to the dustbin.

There was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a reminder of a thawing period between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1987.

It prohibited the fielding of land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, but both the US and Russia have now confined the document to oblivion.

The last nuclear arms control treaty, the lonely 2010 New START treaty, deals with the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers and is also predicted to be cancelled.

The demise of New START “will have a disastrous impact” on the strategic balance between Russia and the US, said Alexander Golts, an independent defence analyst in Moscow.



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