Putin delivered a fiery speech ahead of the the upcoming election – boasting of “invincible” nuclear weapons.
The president also vowed instant retaliation against a nuclear attack on Russia or its allies.
Putin is expected to win his fourth term by a landslide in 16 days, as the main opposition, Alexei Navalny, has been barred from participating in the election after being arrested during a protest.
For the first half of his speech, Putin focused on domestic issues, such as halving the poverty rate and increasing medical and internet access to rural areas.
But his rhetoric was stepped up during his two-hour long speech, backed up with a powerpoint presentation which showed graphics of Russia’s supposed latest nuclear capabilities.
He claimed that Russia possessed new, “invincible” weapons, which included low-flying, long-range missiles capable of going undetected by American anti-missile technology. The graphics appeared to show Florida being obliterated by these missiles.
“I believe it as my duty to say this: any use of nuclear weapons of any yield – small, medium or whatever – against Russia or its allies will be regarded as a nuclear attack against our country. Retaliation will be instant with all the ensuing consequences,” he said.
“Some of the provisions of the updated US nuclear strategy review, which reduces the threshold for using nuclear weapons, trigger tremendous concern. One can try to calm down anyone behind the scenes as one chooses, but we read what has been written. It is written in such a way that it can be used in response to a conventional weapon strike or even in response to a cyberthreat.”
His speech came in the wake of a new U.S. doctrine which lowers the threshold with which American nuclear capabilities are to be utilized.
He claimed this to be in contrast with Russian policy, which is only to use nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear attack on that country before adding that Russia is the strongest nuclear power in the world.
His speech was garnished with a roaring rendition of the national anthem, and was televised in front of a Russian flag. The intended message was clear – a vote for Putin is a vote for Russia – a vote against him is a vote against the nation.