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Putin’s Proclaimed ‘Unstoppable’ Super Nuclear Capability Raises ‘New Cold War’ Concern… Should It?

The arguably megalomaniac Vladimir Putin has long adopted an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear weapons policy. If these new capability claims are actually un-credible, it could be part of an questionable effort to deter the increase in U.S. missile sales to prevent provocation. It could also be a bold effort to score cheap political points at home…

Russian president Vladimir Putin is boasting Russia has developed an undetectable, unstoppable intercontinental nuclear missile capable of delivering a payload a 1000 x stronger than any one nuclear weapon belonging to the United States. The remarks are raising concern that we are witness to the advent of a second Cold War.

Putin made the announcement during a speech to show his fulfillment of a previously-made promise to “neutralize” America’s missile defense, or otherwise deliver such a knock-out blow to U.S. nuclear strategic superiority.

Undeterred by these remarks introducing the Sarmat weapon was the United States’ on-schedule sale of the Javelin missile system to Ukraine, part of a broader effort to shore up America’s missile defense interests, as well as those of our allies, around the globe but particularly in Eastern Europe and Asia.

“Our missile defense has never been about [Russia].”

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White denies U.S. missile defense re-shoring has to do with Russia, telling reporters, “Our missile defense has never been about [Russia].”

The current Russian president is up for a near certain re-election on Mar. 18.  The timing raises questions regarding whether or not this was more of a domestic political legitimacy stunt than it was an international proclamation of nuclear superiority, something arguably better kept quiet along the lines of surprise when it comes to strategic advantage.

There is particular concern that a Putin-led Russia is increasingly bold and unbridled in behavior while the “hand-wringing” U.S. is left with uncertainty about how to re-build our seemingly lost intimidation factor on the world stage despite maintaining a significant arms race advantage when it comes to comparative national economies and purchasing power.

The arguably megalomaniac Vladimir Putin has long adopted an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear weapons policy.

The arguably megalomaniac Vladimir Putin has long adopted an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear weapons policy. If these new claims are actually un-credible, it could be part of an questionable effort to deter the increase in U.S. missile sales to prevent provocation. It could also be a bold effort to score cheap political points at home at a time when increasingly expensive military costs are clashing with a domestic economic downturn, and he needs to justify the cost and his expeditionary foreign affairs.

Also of note, the US-Russian New Start nuclear-related agreements just passed its implementation deadline on Feb. 5 of this year. It will expire in 2021 with renegotiation efforts underway even as Tehran joins Moscow in brazenly demanding the U.S. and Europe disarm.

Putin’s own announcement comes in the wake of the Trump administration decision to replace the Obama era strategy leaning toward an ideal of nuclear disarmament, making one wonder whether Putin may feel the butt of a bait-and-switch policy between the current and former administrations.

What Russia could hypothetically hope to achieve with such an “unstoppable” super nuclear weapon in an era of multilateral mutually assured destruction is less clear short of re-gaining the world’s unfocused attention on Russia as a world power rather than as a meddler in foreign elections. Or maybe the nuclear cat was already left out the bag leaving Putin to try and reap some political points following recent testimony by U.S. military brass on Capitol Hill.

Russia developed new cruise missiles “with the capability to hold targets at risk at ranges we haven’t seen before,” Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of U.S. Northern Command told the Senate in February.

Russia developed new cruise missiles “with the capability to hold targets at risk at ranges we haven’t seen before,” Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of U.S. Northern Command told the Senate in February. The Sarmat system is essentially a cruise missile with nuclear-propulsion rendering range a practical non-issue.

“Russia remained a nuclear power but no one wanted to listen to us,” Putin told lawmakers during his address. “Listen to us now.”

Perhaps the key to getting Russia “to listen” and avert what some allege is a “new” Cold War, is for the U.S. and/or our allies at large to hold Russia accountable for this violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Sheena Hutchison

Sheena Hutchison serves as the Booking Producer for OpsLens Media Group. In addition to her production duties, she has nearly a decade of experience in domestic and international political analysis and campaign strategy. As a ghostwriter for a former Reagan-appointed ambassador to the United Nations, much of her work has focused on national security issues and advancing America's interests.

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