In the latest sign that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is re-living the Cold War of his youth, the increasingly erratic leader said Russia will be deploying 40 nuclear missiles in 2015 that will be able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.
Putin's comments, appropriately delivered at an arms fair, come after the U.S. proposed increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe NATO states.
That move comes after Russia invaded Ukraine and continues to occupy the territory.
The 40 nuclear missiles are not additional missiles, but would replace older models with new designs capable of penetrating anti-missiles defense systems.
Russian military officials have warned that Moscow will respond if the U.S. carries out its plan to move heavy military equipment into Eastern Europe. Russia views the Baltic states, where the U.S. may store such weapons, as part of the 'Soviet Union', despite the fact such a state hasn't existed in over 30 years.
"The feeling is that our colleagues from NATO countries are pushing us into an arms race," said Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov at the arms fair, just outside Moscow. He refused to answer any questions about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is the most destabilizing event in the region since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed a renewed emphasis upon his country's nuclear arsenal due to the country's weakness in conventional military systems. As we reported last week, Russia lost three aircraft due to maintenance issues in the span of just five days.
Moscow is trying to modernize its strategic nuclear weapons systems, with new ballistic missiles being deployed, upgraded bombers, and new submarines being launched.
The country's older, obsolete weapons have been withdrawn from service in recent years, leading to the overall size of the Russian arsenal decreasing.
Virtually all countries in the region have been put on edge by Putin's increased rhetoric around nuclear weapons. Threats to deploy short-range nuclear weapons in Russian-occupied Ukraine have been accompanied by warnings of nuclear targeting against NATO members who might host ballistic missile defenses.
While most of the world realizes just how idiotic the use of nuclear weapons would be, Russia and its dictator seem stuck in the Cold War, attempting to re-live what they perceive as the glory days of the Soviet Union.