Russia ramps up missile plans after collapse of US nuclear arms treaty

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Russia ramps up missile plans after collapse of US nuclear arms treaty


Weapons programme: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AP
Weapons programme: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AP

Russia has said it will develop a new hypersonic missile and a land-based version of an existing cruise missile by 2021 following the demise of a key nuclear arms control treaty with the US.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday issued a deadline to top brass to create a long-range, land-based hypersonic missile as well as modify the air-and-sea-based Kalibr cruise missile, which he said had “recommended itself well in Syria”. He also called for the range of all missiles under development to be extended.

On Saturday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would leave the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and develop new weapons, the day after the United States announced its withdrawal.

US President Donald Trump has accused Moscow of violating the treaty with “impunity”, a reference to years of complaints that it was secretly developing a prohibited missile. The Kremlin argued that US missile defence and drone capabilities constitute a violation of the agreement.

The end of the INF raises the spectre of a US arms race with both Russia and China, which has been actively developing missiles within the 500-5,500km range banned by the US-Russian agreement.

Under Mr Trump, the US has already begun developing its first new long-range nuclear weapons since 1991.

Last March, Mr Putin announced a raft of new nuclear weapons.

As Russian-American relations deteriorate, top US officials yesterday said that foreign agents did not have a significant impact on computer systems and other equipment underpinning the November 2018 congressional elections despite reports of hacking attempts.

The statement by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Homeland Security contrasted with US officials’ view that the 2016 presidential election was the target of a sophisticated Russian hacking and propaganda campaign to help Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The two agencies said the US government has found no evidence that foreign governments or agents had an impact last November, when Democrats won control of the House of Representatives.

Neither political campaigns nor electronic voting machines or other infrastructure was significantly affected, they said in a joint statement. They declined to provide further details. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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Irish Independent

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