Putin boasts about the size and capability of his missiles

  • Today, Putin gave his early ‘state of the nation’ address. Over a few good hours Putin talked about achievements and plans to “strengthen democracy” and prosperity, pledged to halve poverty in Russia over the next six years, and said the country has to double the amount it spends on infrastructure. Most notably, some 30 minutes were dedicated to talking about Russia’s nuclear capabilities and how it is developing missiles that would bypass the US’s missile defence system

  • This section is not yet included in the official transcript, but a rant it was not. Putin came prepared with graphics and animations to drive home his point

  • The tone was bellicose and the jist was that the US has "failed to take Russia’s nuclear might seriously or to adequately negotiate arms control." U.S. efforts to contain Russia had also failed.

“No one listened to us,” Putin said. “Listen to us now.” 

  • It both a campaign speech and the 'state of the nation' address; the main target audience is domestic

  • The speech comes roughly a month after US airstrikes killed “several” (likely somewhere in the low hundreds) Russian mercenaries operating in Syria. Putin drew flak at home for the lack of response, but tactically his hands were tied as the mercenaries were not there on official Russian business. Boasting about having the capabilities to destroy the US is one way of making up for that in front of those domestic audiences. Not to mention the fact that economic stagnation is becoming harder and harder to mask.

  • To foreign audiences, the obvious message is that Russia is back as a global superpower. This comes on the back of both real and perceived transgressions from the US, and is enabled by the US’s domestic chaos and infighting, and weak leadership.

  • Does Russia actually possess these capabilities, or is it anywhere near developing them? That remains to be seen and is quite dubious, but the point to remember is that the Dear Leader is under tremendous pressure both domestically and from abroad; this is the reason for these threats. But somehow that doesn't make it any less terrifying.

  • I'll leave you with this cheerful thought from former Putin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky: "The old man only brightened up when talking about how he can destroy the whole world. A moment of truth!"