New Russian hardware does not change US strategy – Defence Secretary

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent boasts of a new generation of high-tech weaponry have not changed America’s strategic calculus, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday.

Putin on March 1 showed videos and described several new weapons Russia is developing, including a hypersonic missile that flies many times quicker than sound and is designed to evade missile defence systems by changing trajectory mid-flight.

Speaking to reporters as he travelled to Oman, Mattis said that nothing Putin showed off changes anything from the Pentagon’s perspective.

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“As I went through and looked at the clips of what (Putin) showed on the videos… I saw no change to the Russian military capability and each of these systems that he’s talking about that are still years away, I do not see them changing the military balance,” Mattis said.

“They do not impact any need on our side for a change in our deterrence posture.”

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He said Putin’s speech was “disappointing but unsurprising”.

One of the technologies Putin touted was a robotic torpedo that could hit an American port city, but Mattis said that makes no difference as Russia already can target US port cities with missiles.

“It doesn’t change anything other than how much money do they want to spend on something that does not change at all the strategic balance,” he said.

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America’s current missile defence systems are designed to stop ballistic missiles from foes such as Iran or North Korea, and would be overwhelmed by a large salvo of incoming rockets from a major power such as Russia.

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