Russia: Threat of invasion of Ukraine discussed by Ellwood
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The Russian President stoked fears of an all-out war on Tuesday when he addressed an investment forum in Moscow. Mr Putin told the event the Kremlin is prepared to fight fire with fire should the Western NATO alliance set up camp on Russia’s doorstep. He appeared most concerned with the possibility of NATO deploying troops and hypersonic weapons capabilities in Ukraine.
And though Mr Putin said that he hoped common sense would prevail, he made it clear Russia would respond with equally drastic measures if its national interests in the region are challenged.
He said: “If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be seven to 10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine.
“What are we to do in such a scenario?
“We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now.”
Russia, alongside the US and China, is one of the few countries known to possess hypersonic weapons.
These are typically described as missiles that travel long distances at breakneck speeds, more than five times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 5).
Unlike conventional ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons are faster, travel low through the atmosphere and are, consequently, much harder to intercept.
Three years ago, the Russian President claimed during a televised broadcast that one such weapon in Russia’s arsenal, the Avangard missile, was 20 times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 20) and “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defence system”.
More recently, Russian officials have confirmed the launch of the Zircon, or Tsirkon, missile from a submarine in the Barents Sea.
Russia 'incredibly irresponsible' to launch missile in space test
And as tensions with the West threaten to boil over, Russia fired another Zircon missile during a test in the White Sea.
According to Mr Putin, the sea-based hypersonic weapons would be fully integrated into Russia’s arsenal by the start of the new year.
The Russian President claimed they travel at nine times the speed of sound (Mach 9) with an impressive flight time of just five minutes.
He was also quizzed about NATO’s operations in Europe and why the military alliance had ignored Russia’s pleas not to deploy missile launch systems in Poland and Romania.
In particular, he expressed concerns about the Aegis Ashore missile defence system developed by the US Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency programme.
Mr Putin went on to say he does not want to see NATO deploy its Mark 41 Vertical Launching System in Ukraine, which he claimed can be used to launch Tomahawk missiles.
He said: “Creating such threats (in Ukraine) would be red lines for us. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.
“I hope that a sense of common sense, responsibility for both our countries and the world community will prevail.”
Tensions between Russia and the West have been on a knife’s edge after Russian was seen moving troops near Ukraine’s border.
It comes after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who appeared in Latvia on Tuesday, said Russia’s amassing of troops would be a topic of discussion at the upcoming Foreign Ministerial Meeting.
He said: “We have a wide range of issues to discuss at the upcoming Foreign Ministerial Meeting.
“Of course the Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine.
“We call on Russia to be transparent, to de-escalate and to reduce tensions.”
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