MOSCOW – Russia has offered the United States a chance to buy Russian hypersonic weapons instead of developing their own, President Vladimir Putin said. The US, however, seeks to create its own analogues.
The bombshell was made by the Russian president on Thursday as he spoke at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok in eastern Russia.
“I told Donald [Trump]: Do you want us to sell [hypersonic weaponry] to you? And we would balance it all out,” Putin said when asked how the new Russian weaponry might fit into existing gun control agreements.
It is not yet clear whether the US president has considered the offer, as Washington is trying to create its own hypersonic weapons.
“Well, maybe they will. But why spend money when we have already spent it and could have something in return without undermining our own security and to create balance?” Putin added.
It was not immediately clear whether the President of Russia was serious about his offer or if it was an example of high-level irony, since Moscow – like everyone else – has always been reluctant to sell the newest weapons abroad or, until it has at least created special export versions of them.
Hypersonic missiles can reach very high speeds, making them more difficult – if not impossible – to intercept with existing systems designed to counter their slower counterparts.
Several new weapons, including hypersonic missiles, lasers, cruise missiles, and nuclear-powered underwater drones, were unveiled by the Russian President in March 2018. Some of the weapons, such as an airborne hypersonic Kinzhal missile, have already been shown in action by general public. Other systems – namely, Peresvet’s “combat laser complex” – are shrouded in mystery and their exact purpose and ability remain unknown.
Putin’s announcement made a lot of noise at the time, with the US going from denying the existence of such weapons to fighting to create its own. Of course, the hypersonic arms race has yielded very lucrative contracts for the American military industrial complex, but nothing else has been produced so far.