Putin claims Russia has "invincible" nuclear weapons that can bypass U.S. defenses

In a state-of-the-nation speech just weeks before Russia’s presidential election, President Vladimir Putin claimed his country had two new nuclear-powered weapons systems.


President Vladimir Putin claimed in an annual state of the nation speech Thursday that the Russian military had developed new weaponry that renders missile defenses “completely useless.”

Addressing the Russian parliament for nearly two hours in a venue just outside the Kremlin, Putin outlined several new weapons: cruise missiles, underwater drones, and a hypersonic missile that can travel several times the speed of sound.

All of the weapons are reportedly nuclear-powered, a feature that would significantly extend the range of the missiles. The new hypersonic cruise missile would be able to carry a nuclear warhead and fly “with a practically unlimited range and an unpredictable flight path, which can bypass lines of interception and is invincible in the face of all existing and future systems of both missile defense and air defense,” Putin said.

The underwater drones could also launch a nuclear warhead from anywhere in the world.

“Means to resist them simply don’t exist in the world today,” Putin said of the underwater drones.

His speech was accompanied by graphics that showed how the weapons could theoretically bypass U.S. naval defense systems.


Graphic displayed during Putin’s speech.

Russian lawmakers applauded after being shown videos of the weapons. 

Putin’s claims are hard to verify. But if Russia had been testing nuclear-powered weapons, there should theoretically be evidence of it, as Reuter’s Gerry Doyle noted on Twitter.

it strikes me that if russia really did test a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and they have not figured out a way to keep it from spraying radioactive particles, there should be some atmospheric traces

— Gerry Doyle (@mgerrydoyle) March 1, 2018

Putin’s speech could also be viewed in the context of President Trump’s recent unveiling of the Nuclear Posture Review, a document that outlines plans to bolster and expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In his State of the Union speech, Trump said he intends to build an arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.”

This likely made it easy for Putin to frame his country’s move as a response to U.S. weapons development. But experts say Russia has been expanding its nuclear capabilities for years.

In 2001, President George W. Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that the U.S. had signed with the then-U.S.S.R. Putin said the withdrawal was a “mistake,” and, some claim, he’s been fuming about the decision ever since.

“This is more about Bush’s decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty and the failure of either Bush or Obama to address Russian concerns about missile defense than it is about [the Nuclear Posture Review],” said Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute to the Washington Post.

Still, it’s easy to interpret parts of Putin’s speech on Thursday as being marked with resentment toward the West, which he said had been “ignoring us. Nobody listened to us. Well listen to us now.”

It remains unclear how much of Putin’s tough talk is true.

“Nobody knows how much is bluster,” Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group, an aerospace and defense consultancy, told CNN.

 

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The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.

The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.

Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.

"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."

University of Colorado Boulder

Christopher Lowry

This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.

Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.

The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.

Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.

What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.

"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."

Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.