During a Wednesday meeting with members of Congress to testify about the Pentagon's latest budget request, one US military leader told lawmakers that he was "disappointed" with Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent unveiling of a powerful nuclear weapon, adding that the Russian leader will likely use it to "further intimidate" the US and its NATO allies, per RT.
"I think the statements made by Russian president Putin while not surprising were nonetheless disappointing. While we have been aware of the development of Russia’s capabilities and watching with concern some of the development that has occurred in terms of Russia’s doctrine and exercise program, it is nonetheless disappointing to see that the president of the Russian Federation chose to feature these capabilities in a way that he did," John Rood, under secretary of defense policy, told the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, during the discussion.
Another leader, Commander of US Strategic Command Gen. John Hyten, said Putin's declarations were "not surprising".
"Putin’s statements are not surprising and only reinforce Russia’s commitment to develop weapons designed to intimidate and coerce the US and its allies," Hyten said.
During his annual state-of-the-nation address to Russian lawmakers last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked the world - grabbing headlines in US and other western media - by unveiling a new intercontinental missile that Putin claimed is capable of evading US missile defenses. Putin accompanied this announcement with a presentation showing footage of weapons testing, as well as digital representations of what a launch would look like.
Putin once again blamed the US for Russia's decision to develop its newest weapons, claiming that George W Bush's decision to withdraw from the anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002.
In response to Putin's demonstration, a Pentagon spokeswoman said last week saying that "the US has known for a long time that Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems..." and that the US is "fully prepared" to handle the advances threat. On Wednesday, Hood echoed that statement, admitting that Russia's new weapons systems had probably been in development for "quite some time.
"Those capabilities have obviously been in development for quite some time. President Putin talked about their maturity. They are clearly not the capabilities that were developed in the last few months or the last year," Rood admitted.
Perhaps more surprisingly, he also claimed that US-led NATO missile defense systems were "never intended" to neutralize either the Russian or the Chinese strategic nuclear arsenal. "That has not been our plan in focus and the capabilities developed do not enable us to do that," he said.
Still, the US still has enough nuclear and conventional-weapons heft to counter what he referred to as "revisionist powers" that are seeking to "reshape the world order and change territorial borders."
Hyten agreed, and warned lawmakers that, without massive investment in defense, the existing American arsenal could only support the "mutually assured destruction" doctrine for about a decade before the US's current systems reach the end of their natural lives.
"There is nothing they can do besides a massive attack against our country that we will not have the ability to respond to," Hyten explained. "But we have to modernize these capabilities because 10-12 years from now all the capabilities that I operate today will be reaching end of life."