Putin Says Russian Navy Can Carry Out ‘Unpreventable Strike’ If Needed

Earlier this week, President Vladamir Putin asserted that the Russian navy has the capacity to carry out an “unpreventable strike” if necessary. His boastful remarks came during a parade celebrating the 325th anniversary of the navy in St. Petersburg and were in reference to a previous incident involving a UK warship passing the Crimea Peninsula. Russia claims to have fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of British Royal Navy warship, HMS Defender, which was sailing from Ukraine to Georgia on June 23. 

“We are capable of detecting any underwater, above-water, airborne enemy and, if required, carry out an unpreventable strike against it,” said Putin last Sunday. 

The Russian president believes that the British ship was sailing intentionally, and illegally, into territorial waters near the Crimea Peninsula to test the extent of Russia’s reaction. He further asserted that this incident was part of a coordinated effort with the U.S., arguing that a U.S. spy plane took off from Greece earlier that day to monitor Russia’s response to the British warship. 

“It was obvious that the destroyer entered (territorial waters) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated, how things work, and where everything is located,” Putin claimed. 

Later, in an annual Question and Answer with voters, Putin was asked if the world stood on the precipice of World War III during the confrontation. Although he responded no, his reasoning was less reassuring, citing Russia’s inevitable victory as the primary deterrent. Both the U.K. and the U.S. have dismissed Putin’s claims, stating that no warning shots were fired. Instead, the U.K. Ministry of Defense says that Russians were undertaking gunnery exercises in the Black Sea, and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.

Putin’s remarks preceded nuclear arms control talks between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Geneva, which took place on July 28th. According to the State Department, the meeting followed up on President Biden and President Putin’s commitment to promote a “deliberate and robust dialogue between our two nations that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” These consultations will preface a more formal meeting between President Biden and Putin in September. 

The U.S. and Russia cumulatively hold 90% of the world’s nuclear weaponry. Thus, it is critical that both nations’ commitment to strategic stability is upheld, and that the subject is approached with willingness for constructive dialogue. While the U.S. contends that Russia has unilaterally begun low-yield nuclear testing in clear violation of a nuclear testing moratorium, Russia is concerned with U.S. modification of heavy bombers and launchers to launch ballistic missiles. However, according to the TASS news agency, the largest Russian news agency, Ryabkov was satisfied with the consultations, stating that the U.S. showed readiness for a cooperative and productive discourse. 

“We remain committed, even in times of tension, to ensuring predictability and reducing the risk of armed conflict and threat of nuclear war,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement. 

Continued cooperation and substantive dialogue are necessary to prevent violent conflict between the two nations. Both parties must abide by the nuclear arms moratorium established in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which Biden extended for five more years at the start of his presidency. If violent conflict erupts between the U.S. and Russia, there will be inevitable and extreme consequences for the rest of the world.

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