Russia to Roll Out 2 New Cruise and Hypersonic Missile Systems
Sergei Shoigu. (File Photo: IANS)

Moscow, February 5: The Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday announced its plan to develop and deploy within two years two new cruise and hypersonic missiles as Moscow's initial response to the US' decision to abandon the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will develop new ground versions of its intermediate-range Kalybr cruise missile and hypersonic missile, Efe news reported.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the then Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the agreement in recent years amid increasing tensions. "During 2019 and 2020 we will develop a new ground variant of the sea-launched long-range cruise missile that functioned so well in Syria," Shoigu said at a press conference. Russia to Supply S-300 Air Defence Systems to Syria in 2 Weeks.

"Within the same time-frame we will develop a ground version of our hypersonic missile." The sea and air variants of these missiles were already operational, Shoigu said, adding that "it will allow a considerable reduction of the new missile's delivery schedule and overall project cost". "Our priority is to increase the range of our current ground missile systems."

Shoigu ordered his Deputy Defence Minister Alexei Krivoruchko to begin developing both weapon projects "in the very near future" within the multi-annual budget assignment set aside for this purpose. Last Saturday, Shoigu detailed these plans to President Vladimir Putin after the latter announced that Russia had also forsaken the INF Treaty.

The Russian Defence Minister also said that Washington was already actively developing new ground missiles with a range exceeding 500 km, therefore violating INF guidelines. On Saturday, Putin assured Russia's response to the US decision would be "symmetrical" but that nevertheless, Moscow would still refrain from deploying weapons with a range between 500 and 5,500 km in European Russia and other global regions, so long as Washington also agreed not to.

On Friday, Washington announced that it had suspended its INF Treaty-related obligations after Russia refused to destroy its Novator 9M729 cruise missile which, according to Washington, allegedly violated the INF treaty.