'Invincible nukes are Putin’s response to US Nuclear Posture Review’
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his State of the Nation address Thursday, announcing the country now has a nuclear capability unlike anything in the world.
The president stressed that Russia would not need new weapons if its legitimate concerns had not been ignored by Washington and its allies. “Nobody wanted to talk with us on the core of the problem. Nobody listened to us. Now you listen,” he said.
RT America’s Ed Schultz discussed Putin’s annual address to the parliament with Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, as Western news outlets focused on one segment of his two-hour speech, reframing the state-of-the-nation address as a nuclear-tipped saber-rattle.
RT: How did you take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s parliamentary address?
Linda Gunter: In some ways it wasn't a huge surprise. Because not only Russia but the US has been ramping up not only talk but nuclear weapons development for quite some time. They've both been modernizing their nuclear weapons arsenal. So, it wasn't a huge surprise. But I think it comes in context of a couple of things. Probably, definitely, the [Russian presidential] election [on March 18]. It's the right kind of rhetoric to be delivering in Russia right now, for his needs, coming up for the election. But also in response to the Nuclear Posture Review here in the US, where we talked about having smaller, more usable nuclear weapons and upgrading our arsenals. We seem to be back in rather similar rhetoric to the Cold War, frankly. Where we're talking about an escalation again and more weapons, different weapons, new more invincible weapons, when really both countries already have 7,000 nuclear weapons.
RT: From what the president of Russia said, you could come to the conclusion that the US is now at a military disadvantage, if Russia can hit any country, anywhere on the globe, undetected. What’s your response?
LG: This idea of being undetected rather plays into the whole question about deterrence, which is the cornerstone of the argument that's made here about why we have nuclear weapons in the first place. If you've got one that can't be detected, that rather suggests that you're going to use it. But I think that this announcement by Putin is really about the missile defense system which has always been a little bit of a myth, frankly.
RT: Obama said that he would never put those missile defense systems in Romania and he did. And Putin views those, the Russians view those as offensive weapons. The US says, “No, those are defensive weapons because we've got issues with Iran and we don't trust them.” Putin comes back and says, “You just did a nuclear deal with Iran.” So this is all starting to really unravel, is it not?
LG: I think so. I mean, I think we're in very dangerous times when we have rhetoric like that. And really no ability for diplomacy when you have that kind of standoff. I mean, what should be happening are talks. But it looks like the door is not open on either side right now. Going back to missile defense, you're talking about a system: they're supposed to shoot down missiles in the air and it has been tested, but only with a plan in place, that you know where it is going, what the trajectory is, what time it is coming, which you would never know in a real situation. And a missile defense system has to be a hundred percent accurate, otherwise it is useless. Because if one of these gets through, we've got a major catastrophe on our hands. Really, it is not about whether the missile defense would work or not work, I think it is all to do with this constant build-up between the two countries going back into what would really be a futile arms race.
RT: Do you think this speech is going to move the US president to try to have some kind of face-to-face with world leaders when it comes to nuclear weapons? What is the result of this going to be? Isn't it time for a beer in Reykjavik?
LG: Or maybe a vodka or two… Your guess is as good as mine, what might move the president talk to anybody? He tweets quite a lot… He hasn't yet on this. But that actually does worry allies in the West. And the instability of those tweets and the kind of bellicose rhetoric and the enticing North Korea and Russia, that is very dangerous.