During his March 1 address to Russia’s Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin grabbed headlines by claiming that prospective additions to the country’s strategic nuclear arsenal would render U.S. missile defenses “useless.”
Let’s break this down — here are four key things to know about Putin’s speech:
1) The weapons that Putin referenced range from the established to the outlandish
Putin mentioned strategic nuclear systems in various stages of development. The best known of these is the RS-28 “Sarmat,” a new land-based heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that will be fitted with advanced technology to assure penetration of any missile defense.
This technology may include maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicles such as the one Putin mentioned on “Avangard,” Russia’s first missile system with a vehicle of this type. He also talked about a long-range nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle that can be fitted with a nuclear warhead, known commonly as “Status-6.” Both systems are designed to evade any U.S. defensive measures — Avangard by presenting an unpredictable flight trajectory, while Status-6 is an entirely new sea-based way to deliver a nuclear weapon.