A Russian state-run TV news broadcast on Sunday appeared to issue a dire threat to the United States military, boasting about the capabilities of Russia’s new cruise missile known as the Tsirkon or Zircon, a deadly weapon launched from a ship that can fly at an incredible, hypersonic speed of more than 6,000 miles per hour, according to a report on the Zircon missile by Popular Mechanics. The report said that in a December test, the Russian missile clocked in at a speed of 1.7 miles per second or 6,138 miles per hour.
The existence of the missile was an open secret among U.S. intelligence agencies, but Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed that Russia was developing the Zircon during his February 20 State of the Union address, according to a CNBC report.
“The U.S. once sought global domination through its missiles program. They should abandon illusions, we will always respond with a reciprocal response,” Putin said in the speech about three weeks ago, also claiming that the missile’s hypersonic capabilities render it “invincible.”
On Sunday, as reported via Twitter by Russia-watching journalist Julia Davis, a news broadcast on the state-controlled Russia 1 channel boasted, “US missile defense system turned to dust,” in a report on the hypersonic Zircon missile. The missile was originally designed to target ships but is now believed to have capabilities of striking targets on land as well, according to a Fast Company report.
#Russia's state TV host Dmitry Kiselyov boasts that the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile is capable of overcoming the US missile defense system, rendering it "meaningless" — "Americans themselves don't believe in it." The screen reads: "US missile defense system turned to dust." pic.twitter.com/i4c0F6zfI3— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) March 17, 2019
While on the U.S. side Donald Trump has been extremely reluctant to make critical statements about Putin or Russia, as Politico reported, the same has not been true coming from the Russians who serve as mouthpieces for Putin’s government.
“I cannot overemphasize how often I hear influential pundits, politicians and gov’t officials on Russian state TV say: ‘Americans are not our friends,’ ‘We don’t want to be their friends,’ ‘They will never be our friends,'” wrote Davis, who regularly monitors and reports on Russian state media. “Believe them, they mean it,” she added.
Watch a Russian test-launch of the hypersonic Zircon cruise missile in the video below.
A United States intelligence assessment concluded that Russia’s hypersonic missile could be fully deployed as early as 2022 and that current U.S. defenses are not capable of stopping it, according to Newsweek. The report also noted that a U.S. government General Accounting Office “threat assessment” report has stated that the U.S. has “no existing countermeasure” to combat a hypersonic missile attack — an attack that could even deliver nuclear warheads.
Putin’s announcement confirming Russia’s development of the hypersonic Zircon missile came shortly after the Trump administration announced that the U.S. would pull out of the 32-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which regulated the missile development programs of both countries, according to The Washington Post. Russia soon followed the U.S.’s lead in terminating the treaty.