The frost is fairly dense in the midst of the bleak winter in either country. With a language of determination that is almost reminiscent of the Cold War, Vladimir Putin has threatened an arms race against the United States with a signal of intent that envisages new missiles, indeed a “new line of nuclear-capable weapons that can breach US defences”.
Is there a certain disenchantment across the Atlantic a year after President Trump’s inaugural? Unmistakable is the remarkably calculated timing of the Russian President’s address to the nation ~ weeks before the presidential election on 18 March when he will seek a fourth term and no less crucially a reasonable confirmation that the Kremlin has interfered in the US election of 2016.
Mr Putin has announced that Russia has developed and is testing a new line of strategic nuclear-capable weapons that would be able to outmanoeuvre US defences.
This possible signal of a new arms race between Moscow and the West comes a year after the post-Cold War bonhomie, which in itself was a quirky facet to international relations.
As he exhibited Russia’s arsenal through a video presentation, he made it pretty obvious that he was engaged in a “weapons war” to buttress the Kremlin’s adversarial response to US policy since 2001.
It was a power-point presentation of animations of ICBMs, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, underwater drones and other weapons that he claimed Russia had developed as a result of the US pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty signed with the Soviet Union. “You didn’t listen to our country then,” was Putin’s caveat.
“Listen to us now.” Some of the weapons were already being tested, he asserted. Markedly, his address to the nation has followed the Pentagon’s new nuclear arms policy, which can be contextualised with President Trump’s pledge to develop an arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression”.
Clearly, President Putin has utilised the opportunity afforded by his national address to reinforce his defiance, an attitude that is concordant with the traditional Soviet policy towards the US.
“I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years ~ to gain unilateral advantages over Russia ~ and to impose restrictions and sanctions.
The attempt at curbing Russia has failed,” he assured the domestic constituency barely three weeks before the first vote is cast. Indeed , the sabre-rattling against the US overshadowed the pre-election economic promises to the people.
The State of the Union address was in the main a platform to show off Russia’s latest weaponry, some of it capable of delivering a nuclear strike anywhere in the world. His address usually focuses on domestic issues such as the economy and corruption.
This time around, it was riveted to marketing Russia’s latest military technology.