Vladimir Putin has aimed another thinly veiled nuclear threat against the West after readying his hypersonic Avangard missile for launch. Footage released by the Russian defence ministry shows the weapon – a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of travelling at 20,000mph, or 27 times the speed of sound – being installed in an underground launch silo in the Orenburg region in south-western Russia.
Moscow is on record as saying the weapon can hit any target on Earth in less than 30 minutes. Putin has made multiple references to the use of nuclear weapons since his invasion of Ukraine ten months ago, when he put his country’s arsenal on high alert.
The clip follows similar footage of Russia’s new Yars nuclear missiles in the Kaluga and Tver regions in recent days. The intercontinental ballistic missile have a 7,500-mile range – putting both the UK and US within range – and are reportedly ten times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, which killed well over 100,000 people.
Putin who filmed in October overseeing a mock attack on the UK and US using Yars missiles, and also dispatched three MiG-21 bombers capable of deploying Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles to Belarus this week.
Meanwhile henchman Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has kept up a steady stream of bellicose rhetoric, threatening to wipe any country attacking Russia with nuclear weapons off the face of the Earth.
Significantly, Medvedev, who also served as the country’s President between 2008 and 2012, also suggested Russia might reconsider its policy on no-first use. He threatened: “We’re thinking about this. We’re thinking about a disarming strike.
“If we are talking about a disarming strike, perhaps we should think about using the approaches of our American partners.”
The Kremlin yesterday said Putin had spent hours locked in talks with military commanders over the best way to proceed as his war approaches the one-year-mark.
“High-speed surface-to-air missiles coupled with radars optimised to locate and support engagement of this class of weapons needs further development.”
He added: “There have been suggestions that an arms treaty could be used to curtail the acquisition of such systems, but the environment for arms control at the moment is challenging.
“Hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise are dual capable – that is either conventional or nuclear payloads.”