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New Russian laser weapon on ‘standby alert’ by year’s end, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversees Russian military exercises in 2018. (
February 21, 2019

Russia has a new laser weapon that it’s eager to show off, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said it will be on “standby” by the year’s end.

“Next December, all the Peresvet missiles supplied to the armed forces will be put on standby alert,” Putin said Wednesday while addressing the Russian Federal Assembly in his annual state of the nation speech.

Russia revealed the Peresvet laser weapon in December 2018, along with five other nuclear weapons. The build-up shows Russia’s aggressive timeline of developing weapons that it could use to launch attacks against the U.S. or other nations.

Few details are known about the laser weapon right now, except that it looks like the U.S. Navy’s Laser Weapons System. Radio Free Europe pointed out that that a low-powered laser weapon would “only be able to burn small drones and blind electro-optical devices (including human eyeballs),” according to Popular Mechanics, while a stronger laser “would be dangerous to larger drones and small manned aircraft.”

In March 2018, Putin claimed that Russia has created nuclear weapons that can “avoid missile defense systems,” and that the country also intends to build up its stockpile of nuclear missiles that would be able to hit anywhere in the world. He was speaking at his 2018 state of the nation address, and he also said new missiles would make any NATO defense “completely useless” and are “invincible.” Other nuclear cruise missiles would have “unlimited” range, as well, Putin had added.

This past December, Russia had also unveiled an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a hypersonic glide vehicle that would be carried by an ICBM, a hypersonic missile, an underwater drone and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

In his speech on Wednesday, Putin took aim at the United States, threatening that Russia would launch an attack on the U.S. if the country were to send new missiles to Europe or do something confrontational.

The aggressive rhetoric comes as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the two nations is crumbling. The treaty prohibits short-range missiles (from 310 to 620 miles) and intermediate-range missiles (from 620 to 3,420 miles).

The U.S. had accused Russia of not withholding the terms of the treaty, and announced on Feb. 1 it would pull out and leave the deal in six months. Following the announcement, Russia did the same.

The treaty will remain in tact for six months before dissolving, and some critics of the withdrawal have speculated that this might start a nuclear arms race between the two nations.

“They continue with their destructive and clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the interests of the U.S.A. itself,” Putin said during his speech this week. “We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world.”