Russian President Vladimir Putin noted on Wednesday U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s tough stance on Moscow but voiced hope that, if elected, the former vice president might push forward talks on a new weapons agreement between the adversaries. Putin said it as he boasted of a purported successful test of a hypersonic missile.
The test of the advanced hypersonic missile, if true, would be the latest in Russia’s development of weapons systems intended to make their nuclear arsenal faster to deliver around the globe, and unstoppable by America’s missile defense systems.
“As far as the candidate from the Democratic Party is concerned… we also see quite sharp anti-Russian rhetoric. Unfortunately, we are used to this,” Putin said during a televised news conference on Wednesday.
But he also said Biden had made encouraging remarks on New START, the last major nuclear arms treaty still in place between Moscow and Washington.
That treaty is set to expire in February, and bilateral talks between the two countries have thus far yielded no agreement on a pact to replace it.
“Candidate Biden publicly said he was ready for an extension of New START or to reach a new treaty to limit strategic… weapons, and this is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future,” said Putin.
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Meanwhile, he hailed Russia’s apparently successfully test of a new hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile as a “great event” for the country.
The military said that the Tsirkon missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea on Tuesday morning in the Russian Arctic and successfully hit its target.
Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, told Putin — who turned 68 on Wednesday that it was the first time the missile had successfully struck a target at sea.
“The tasks of the launch were carried out. The test-fire was successful,” he told Putin.
Gerasimov said the missile hit its target 280 miles away in the Barents Sea and hit a speed of Mach 8 eight times the speed of sound.
Russia has in recent years touted the development of futuristic new weapons which it hopes will give it the edge in any arms race with the United States.
Putin said the test-firing of Tsirkon was a “great event not just in the life of our armed forces but for all of Russia.”
He said that such weapons, which Putin claimed have no equivalent worldwide, “will without a doubt in the long term boost the defense capabilities of our state.”
The defense ministry said the plan was to equip both warships and submarines with the Tsirkon.
Russia boasts of developing a number of “invincible” weapons that surpass existing systems and include Sarmat intercontinental missiles and Burevestnik cruise missiles.
The first Avangard hypersonic missiles were put into service in December last year, according to Russian officials.
The program is not without risks, and seven people were killed in an explosion at a missile test site in August 2019. Western experts linked the blast to work on the Burevestnik.