Putin says he offered Trump the chance to buy Russian hypersonic weapons
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he offered President Donald Trump the chance to buy Russian hypersonic missiles, supposedly to stop a US-Russia arms race.
- "If you want, we can sell you some and this way we will balance everything out," Putin said he told Trump, according to Russian state media.
- Trump, according to Putin, refused, telling the Russian leader that the US is building its own weapons.
- True or not, Putin's story about his talk with Trump appears designed to further the Russian narrative that Moscow is the reasonable party while Washington is igniting a dangerous arms race.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he recently offered President Donald Trump the chance to purchase some of Russia's new weapons, including hypersonic missiles, purportedly to prevent an arms race.
The Russian president said that he told Trump in a recent phone call that the US could buy some of the hypersonic nuclear weapons Russia is working on, thus creating a kind of balance. But Trump refused, telling him that the US is building its own weapons, Reuters reported.
"If you want, we can sell you some and this way we will balance everything out," the Russian president said he told Trump, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency.
Putin's comments, the truth of which is uncertain, were delivered at an economic forum, where he again lamented the recent collapse of a Cold War-era arms control agreement between Washington and Moscow, a pact the US and NATO accused Russia of violating.
A couple of weeks after the US formally pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over alleged Russian violations, the US conducted its first post-INF Treaty weapons test, firing off a conventional ground-launched cruise missile that exceeded the range limitations of the now-defunct agreement.
Russia has said repeatedly that it will match American efforts missile for missile. Putin reiterated that point Thursday, explaining that "of course, we will produce such missiles." While Russia insists it did not violate the INF Treaty, there is strong evidence that it had already developed and fielded such weapons.
Putin's story appears to be another effort by Russia to present itself as the reasonable party while arguing that the US is dragging the two countries into an arms race, one Russia may have actually started years ago with its development of the Novator 9M729 missile, which NATO refers to as SSC-8.
Putin said Thursday that "Russia is ready for this dialogue," but it has "not received a clear answer from the Americans."
It would be highly unlikely the US would ever accept Russian weapons, which also require launchers and integration into command and control networks and still have a risk that Russia could disrupt them.
The Russian president's stated offer to Trump may be untrue. But Trump, in a peculiar tweet after Russia's recent deadly missile accident, said, "The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology."
Russia is believed to have been working with the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, a weapon NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
It is unclear to what technology Trump might have been referring in his tweet, but the US is working on a number of new projects as it looks more closely at the threats and challenges of great power competition.
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