Russia has defended its new arsenal of advanced, nuclear-capable weapons from U.S. allegations that they failed during recent tests.
Citing sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. spy report on Russia's latest weapons, CNBC reported Monday that a nuclear-powered cruise missile failed all four tests between November 2017 and February 2018, with its longest flight lasting only 22 miles. The missile, later named Burevestnik after an online vote, was touted as having a virtually unlimited range.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peksov dismissed the report, which has been cited by a number of other U.S. media outlets, instructing journalists to place their faith in the Russian leader instead.
"Listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin and trust him," Peskov said, according to the state-run Tass Russian news agency.
During his March 1 State of the Nation address, Putin revealed a number of state-of-the-art Russian weapons that he claimed would be capable of thwarting even the world's top defense systems. Along with the Burevestnik, he showcased the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—nicknamed "Satan 2" by NATO—as well as the Kinzhal hypersonic missile, the Poseidon underwater torpedo drone and the Peresvet combat laser complex.
However, the Burevestnik would be the first weapon of its kind, using a nuclear engine to thrust the missile to an "unlimited range," while maneuvering "for as long as necessary" as Putin described. The weapon could reportedly come in at a low altitude to dodge U.S. ICBM defenses focused on high-flying projectiles.
"As you no doubt understand, no other country has developed anything like this. There will be something similar one day but by that time our guys will have come up with something even better," Putin said during his speech.
Sources cited in the CNBC report said that another one of Putin's new weapons, a hypersonic glide vehicle, was successfully tested twice in 2016 but failed in an October 2017 attempt. Russia was reportedly planning to test the glider a fourth time this summer.
Putin has accelerated Russia's drive to modernize its military capabilities in the face of a massive power gap with the U.S. As relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorate, both have accused one another of meddling in foreign affairs in a manner destabilizing to the world order.
In his December 2017 "America First" National Security Strategy, Trump claimed that "China and Russia challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity" and "are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence."
Both Russia and China, who have sought a closer military relationship, have denied any wrongdoing, accusing the U.S. of unfairly viewing their respective rises as a challenge to its own dominance. A November 2017 Pew Research Center survey showed that transatlantic foreign policy experts trusted Putin more than three times as much as they do Trump.
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