Moscow: Russia is developing an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons to counter recent moves by the US and NATO, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday as the military successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a nuclear submarine.
Putin accused the West of using the crisis in Ukraine to reinvigorate NATO, warning that Moscow will ponder a response to the alliance's decision to create a rapid-reaction "spearhead" force to protect Eastern Europe.
His comments came as Russia's relations with the West have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War due to Russia's role in the crisis in Ukraine. They appear to show that the Russian leader is determined to pursue a tough course in the face of more Western sanctions.
Addressing a Kremlin meeting on weapons modernization, Putin ominously warned the West against getting "hysterical" about Moscow's re-arming efforts, in view of US missile defense plans and other decisions he said have challenged Russia's security.
"We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding countermeasures to ensure our security," Putin said, adding that he would now take personal charge of the government commission overseeing military industries.
He said Russia's weapons modernization program for 2016-2025 should focus on building a new array of offensive weapons to provide a "guaranteed nuclear deterrent;" re-arming strategic and long-range aviation; creating an aerospace defense system and developing high-precision conventional weapons.
The difficulties faced by the Russian arms industry have been highlighted by the long and painful development of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, which has suffered repeated launch failures.
Its designers finally seem to have cured the glitches, and the navy boasted of a successful launch of the Bulava from a nuclear submarine today. Two more launches are set for the fall.
Putin said potential threats must be thoroughly analyzed to avoid overburdening the economy with excessive military spending. He would not elaborate on prospective weapons, but he and other officials have repeatedly boasted about new Russian nuclear missiles' capability to penetrate any prospective missile shield.