Putin confirms Russia has a 'doomsday' nuclear weapon in a wild speech to the nation

Business Insider US

Russian President Putin watches the launch of a missile during naval exercises in Russia’s Arctic North on board the nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great), in August 2005.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about Russia's nuclear might at his annual state of the nation address in Moscow on Thursday.
  • In doing so he seemed to confirm the existence of a long-feared Russian doomsday device.
  • The weapon is an underwater torpedo that has been reported to have a nuclear warhead.
  • The radiation is spread could render large swaths of earth uninhabitable for years.
  • Russia has previously let images of this device leak, and the US seemed to know about it, but Putin confirmed it himself on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about Russia's nuclear might at his annual state of the nation address in Moscow on Thursday — and seemed to confirm the existence of a long-feared Russian doomsday device.

Putin turned towards offensive nuclear-capable systems near the end of a wide-ranging speech, where he also admitted that Russia needs to spend heavily on improving conditions for average Russians. 

Putin described at least five new weapons systems, and each time emphasised how they can defeat US missile defenses, and that they're almost all nuclear-capable.

But, in typical fashion, Putin's descriptions contained wild, scientifically unimaginable claims about how great the weapons were. 

A computer-generated animation accompanied each announcement of new weapons, which may reveal how conceptual or far from realisation the systems are. 

First, Putin mentioned a new intercontinental ballistic, which he claimed had unlimited range and could get past all US missile defenses.

An animation showed the missile taking two trajectories towards the West. Despite not having much real video of the actual product, Putin declared that "our defense companies have launched mass production of this new system."

Next, Putin announced what he called a "global cruise missile," which he claimed had unlimited range and was nuclear-capable.

An animation showed the missile fired from Russia's north, flying north of Europe into the Atlantic, weaving through US air defense zones, and the inexplicably traveling south the entire length of the Atlantic ocean before wrapping around Argentina and ending up near Chile. 

Typically, all missiles have a finite range, as their propulsion relies on burning fuel.

The doomsday device

A briefing slide of the alleged Status-6 nuclear torpedo captured from Russian television.

Then, Putin seemed to confirm a long-feared "doomsday" weapon: an unmanned, undersea vehicle capable of carrying a nuclear weapon across oceans at high speeds.

Previous reports of the weapon have stated it may be a dirty bomb, or a nuclear weapon with additional metal in its core to keep radiation in the atmosphere for years to come.

The undersea weapon's concept has been mocked as an over-the-top, insane system with little purpose other than destroying massive swaths of human life.

Russia may have intentionally leaked images of it in 2015, because it's suspected that a major purpose of this weapon would be to deter attacks on Russia. The animation of the system showed it striking both US Navy formations and a coastal city. 

Putin said the undersea weapon was successfully tested in December 2016, and the US intelligence community seems to have been aware of it, as the weapon was mentioned in President Donald Trump's nuclear posture review.

Other crazy weapons

Concept art of the WU-14, a Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle

Putin then discussed a hypersonic plane-launched, nuclear-capable missile, and showed it hitting US Navy ships.

The US, Russia, China, and others are working on hypersonic weapons that can defeat all current defenses by flying at many times the speed of sound.

Finally, Putin talked up Russian laser weapons, and showed a brief video of an electronic system with lenses pivoting on the back of a truck. He provided little detail about the system. 

For many of the systems, Putin asked Russian citizens to send in suggestions for their names. He used the opportunity to stoke Russian pride by saying the systems were not reworkings of Soviet designs, but recent within the last few years. 

"They kept ignoring us, nobody wanted to listen to us, so listen to us now," said Putin to a standing ovation, referring to the Western world. 

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