(they produce new weapons they claim can evade any missile defense system and they blame Washington for starting a new arms race)
Putin declares that the long US attempt to gain nuclear superiority over Russia has failed and hopes Washington will “listen now.”
Cohen explains that President Putin’s speech to both houses of the Russian parliament on March 1, somewhat akin to the US president’s annual State of the Union address, was composed of two distinct parts. The first approximately two-thirds was pitched to the upcoming Russian presidential election, on March 18, and to domestic concerns of Russian voters, which are not unlike those of American voters: stability, jobs, health care, education, taxes, infrastructures, etc. The latter part of the speech was, however, devoted solely to recent achievements in Russia’s strategic, or nuclear, weapons. These remarks, though also of electoral value, were addressed directly to Washington. Putin’s overarching point was that Russia has thwarted Washington’s two-decade-long effort to gain nuclear superiority over—and thus a survivable first-strike capability against—Russia. His attendant conclusion was that one era in post-Soviet Russian-American strategic relations has ended and a new one has begun. This part of Putin’s speech makes it among the important he has delivered during his 18 years in power.
All of the new Russian nuclear weapons itemized by Putin in his March 1 speech, long in development, have been designed to evade—to thwart and render useless—Washington’s global missile-defense program developed over decades at enormous financial, political, and real security costs. The US political-media establishment has widely dismissed Putin’s claims as a “bluff,”“aggressive,” and “saber-rattling.” But these traits have never characterized Putin’s major policy statements, nor do they this one. If even only a quarter of Putin’s claims for Russia’s new nuclear weapons is true, it means that while Washington heedlessly raced for nuclear superiority and a first-strike capability, Moscow quietly, determinedly raced to develop counter-systems, and—again, assuming Putin’s claims are substantially true—Russia won. From Moscow’s perspective, which in this existential case should also be ours, Russia has regained the strategic parity it lost after the end of the Soviet Union and with it the “mutual security” of MAD