Skip to content

Putin, Shoigu on Space Weapons: We Are Only Doing What the West Also Does

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a meeting with Defense Minister Shoigu yesterday, addressed the “commotion” in Washington regarding allegations that Russia is planning to place a nuclear weapon into orbit. Putin stressed: “Our position is clear and transparent: We have always strongly opposed, and continue to oppose, the deployment of nuclear weapons in outer space. On the contrary, we urge the involved parties to uphold all agreements in this sphere, and have proposed expanding this collaborative effort several times.”

Shoigu replied that Washington and its allies “In reality … know that we are not doing this, yet they are raising a fuss nonetheless. Mr. President, we are surprised because everyone is aware of our capabilities, and you openly told the world about this during your Address to the Federal Assembly in 2018.”

(It was during that March 1, 2018 address, that Putin revealed major advances in Russia’s military defense, including the hypersonic systems such as Avangard. He closed his address, after showing videos of the new defensive systems: “I should note that our military doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack…. There should be no doubt about this whatsoever. There is no need to create more threats to the world. Instead, let us sit down at the negotiating table and devise together a new and relevant system of international security and sustainable development for human civilization. We have been saying this all along.”)

Regarding why Washington is behaving as it is, Shoigu attributed it first to the internal politics around the stalled Ukraine aid bill in the U.S. Congress, and secondly to vague notions in Washington around restarting strategic stability talks with Moscow. Putin agreed: “As for space, we are only doing in space what other countries are doing, including the United States. And you are right, of course, that they are aware of this,” he added.

Putin also reiterated that Russia has never been opposed to talks about any matters of strategic importance, including strategic stability: “Of course, it is impossible to reconcile the calls by the United States and the West for Russia’s strategic defeat with claims about their desire to hold strategic stability talks with us, as if these two issues were not interconnected. If they want to inflict a strategic defeat on us, we must reconsider the meaning of strategic stability for our country.

“In other words, we do not reject any ideas; we do not refuse to discuss anything. But we need to understand what they want,” Putin concluded. “They usually want to achieve unilateral advantages. They will not succeed.”