Putin's nuclear boast escalates a global 'cold war of nerves'

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Heightened U.S. -Russia tensions were on display earlier Thursday in Putin's speech, when he showed videos and computer simulations and declared that Russia's newly developed weapons would render NATO's missile defense systems "useless". "We're not surprised", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

The Kremlin said Friday Russia will not be part of a new arms race as the United States and Germany voiced concern over Vladimir Putin's boasts of new "invincible" weapons.

"I see some of this as a response to the U.S. nuclear posture review, which is quite remarkable in that it stresses the importance of nuclear weapons and building up the United States nuclear arsenal - something President Trump himself has said", said Angela Stent, director of Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies.

The speech came in the same month that the Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy, which followed on from a promise by the U.S. president, Donald Trump, to develop an arsenal "so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression".

Worldwide arms agreements, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, have aimed to reduce USA and Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles and the risk of nuclear proliferation-or even armed conflict.

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White said the US missile defense systems are not about Russia; US officials have long stressed that these systems are more about countries like Iran.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated the theme, pointing to America's massive military budget, as well as US President Donald Trump's own nuclear doctrine.

"My guess is they're not bluffing, that they've flight-tested this thing". "Everybody's jaws dropped when that was mentioned because we had no idea they were working on it".

She added that the US focus in addressing Russia's nuclear modernization was strengthening America's own nuclear forces to serve as a deterrent. The speech placed significant emphasis on Russia's growing military might, and as has always been a Russian tradition, seemed to pit that might against the United States as not only the measuring stick, but also the aggressor.

Putin's speech has further exacerbated tensions with the U.S., which have hit Cold War-era highs over conflict in Syria and Ukraine as well as accusations Moscow interfered in the United States 2016 election.

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With ties between Russian Federation and the West at post-Cold War lows over the Syria and Ukraine conflicts, Putin stoked fears of a new arms race with the announcement on Thursday of high-tech weaponry that can travel at many times the speed of sound.

It was unclear if he had a particular Russian ally, such as Syria, in mind, but his comments looked like a warning to Washington not to use tactical battlefield nuclear weapons.

Nearly half of Putin s almost two-hour speech was dedicated to the country s latest weaponry and was accompanied by video montages of missiles heading over the Atlantic.

This was not a "confrontational" speech, said Mr Peskov, but a demonstration of Russia's potential for technological advance.

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