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Russia’s new Sarmat intercontinental missile as shown on Russian television at an undisclosed location in Russia, March 1, 2018 (RU-RTR Russian Television via AP).

Putin and Trump Ratchet Up the Risks of a New Nuclear Arms Race

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Late last week, during his annual speech to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a raft of new and exotic military weapons systems that were in development, and in some cases ready to be deployed. Putin’s inventory included an enormous, new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile known as “Sarmat”; new maneuverable re-entry vehicles that will, in theory, be fitted onto Russian ballistic missiles to help them overwhelm American missile defenses; a nuclear-powered cruise missile apparently able to fly for thousands of miles just feet above the surface of the earth; and a nuclear-armed underwater drone potentially able to lay dormant and then sneak close to an adversary’s coastline to a deliver a strategic blow in minutes. Putin also mentioned developments in hypersonic missile technology and even a possible future laser weapon.

All these new military developments, which Putin presented in an aggressive tone that included a video animation of advanced warheads falling on Florida, were quite clearly aimed at the United States. The choice of that American state, the home of President Donald Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, hardly seemed like an accident. Putin appeared to be responding directly to Trump’s nuclear posturing and bluster, as well American plans to deploy increasingly capable anti-missile defenses. ...

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