Vladimir Putin has showcased a series of new Russian “super weapons”, just days after a much-anticipated summit with Donald Trump.
While footage of the super weapons will no doubt make Washington officials nervous, the Trump administration has extended an invitation to Mr Putin to come to the White House later this year, in a clear sign that the bromance may continue.
PUTIN SHOWS OFF ‘SUPER WEAPONS’
Back in March, two weeks before his re-election, Vladimir Putin gave a national address showing off the Kremlin’s military might.
In his speech, the Russian leader included a concept video backing up his claims of nuclear weapons and “invincible” missiles that could travel at lightning speed.
“Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, any kind of attack, will be regarded as a nuclear attack against Russia, and in response, we will take action instantaneously no matter what the consequences are,” he said. “Nobody should have any doubt about that.”
Washington was sceptical of the announcement, with officials casting doubt on whether Russia had really added any new capabilities to its nuclear arsenal, beyond those already known to the US military and intelligence agencies.
Now, as if to dispel any doubt that he was bluffing, Russia has broadcast a series of Hollywood-style videos showing the testing and operation of these weapons.
Clearly Moscow wants to convey a clear message to the rest of the world: Its nuclear arsenal is no joke, and it’s making fast progress.
The videos were published on the ministry’s Facebook page overnight.
They display six military weapon systems in total, including a global-range nuclear cruise rocket and a hypersonic missile that can travel at five times the speed of sound.
It showed a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet taking off from an airfield carrying the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile and then launching it while airborne.
The ministry also said it was preparing to conduct flight tests of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Burevestnik or Storm Petrel.
In March, Mr Putin said they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.
PUTIN INVITED TO WHITE HOUSE
Donald Trump has asked his national security adviser John Bolton to invite President Vladimir Putin to Washington later this year.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the invitation in a tweet.
In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs. President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) July 19, 2018
It shows Mr Trump is keen to keep up his rapprochement strategy with the authoritarian leader, despite lingering criticism in the wake of the Finland summit.
Mr Trump faced an immediate backlash for seeming to be unwilling to stand up to Mr Putin after their meeting in Helsinki — namely because the US leader refused to acknowledge that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 US election.
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Senior Republican Senator John McCain deemed the joint press conference “disgraceful” and a “low point” for the US presidency.
“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American presidency,” Mr McCain said in a statement.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”
Mr Trump later issued a stunning backflip, saying he “accepts” the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the US presidential election, and that he misspoke.
TRUMP REJECTS PUTIN’S ‘INCREDIBLE OFFER’
Donald Trump has rejected a proposal from Mr Putin that each country could interview suspects accused of spying and criminal activity in the other.
Mr Putin’s request was to allow the US to interview 12 Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election, in exchange for allowing Russia to interview Americans the Kremlin has accused of various crimes.
Robert Mueller’s team would be allowed to fly to Moscow to meet with the Kremlin’s own investigation to get to the bottom of the election hacking claims.
Among those Russia sought to interrogate in exchange included Bill Browder, an American-born financier who was responsible for the passing of the Magnitsky Act — which resulted in harsh sanctions on Russia — and Michael McFaul, a key critic of Mr Putin’s regime.
The proposal — which Mr Trump initially described as an “incredible offer” — sparked an angry backlash among Republicans and Democrats alike:
The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn’t be under consideration, period. Full stop. Not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous. https://t.co/5smobXDnkc
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 19, 2018
No. You are not overreacting. The entire country should be aware of this. If Putin can single out @mcfaul, he can single out anyone. The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government. https://t.co/vNVocROhFn
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 18, 2018
Ms Sanders has confirmed the idea is now off the table. “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” she said in a statement.
“Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”
Ms Sanders did however note that Mr Trump said it was “an interesting idea”, and that he “didn’t commit with anything”.
“He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process. But again, we’ve committed to nothing. And it was an idea that they threw out.”
— with wires
Originally published as Putin shows off ‘super weapons’