MOSCOW – Russia's military this year alone will receive 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of piercing any missile defenses, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday in a blunt reminder of the nation's nuclear might amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Putin made the statement at the opening of an arms show at a shooting range in Alabino just west of Moscow, a huge display intended to showcase the nation's resurgent military might.
Russia-West relations have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War times over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. and the EU have slapped Russia with economic sanctions, and Washington and its NATO allies have pondered an array of measures in response to Russia's moves.
The three Baltic members of the alliance, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have asked NATO to permanently deploy ground troops to their nations as a deterrent against an increasingly assertive Russia. And Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Sunday that he and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter held talks about placing U.S. heavy army equipment in Poland.
Moscow bristled at the plans, warning Washington that the deployment of new U.S. weapons near Russian borders would foment dangerous instability in Europe.
"The United States is inciting tensions and carefully nurturing their European allies' anti-Russian phobias in order to use the current difficult situation for further expanding its military presence and influence in Europe," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a comment late Monday.
"We hope that reason will prevail and it will be possible to save the situation in Europe from sliding toward a military standoff which could entail dangerous consequences," it added.
Speaking at the arms show, Putin vowed to continue a big arms modernization program despite the nation's economic downturn. He specifically mentioned the Armata tanks and other new armored vehicles, which were first shown to the public during a Red Square military parade last month, saying they "have no analogues in the world."
Putin also noted that the military was to start testing its new long-range early warning radar intended to monitor the western direction.