By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; 7:31 AM
MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin boasted Tuesday that Russia has missiles capable of penetrating any missile defense system, Russian news reports said.
"Russia ... has tested missile systems that no one in the world has," the ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted him as saying at a news conference. "These missile systems don't represent a response to a missile defense system, but they are immune to that. They are hypersonic and capable of changing their flight path."
President Vladimir Putin speaks at his annual press conference in Moscow's Kremlin, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006. Putin on Tuesday defended Russia's place in the Group of Eight leading industrial nations and lashed out at critics who allege Moscow is unfit to chair the organization this year.
Putin said the new missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He wouldn't say whether the Russian military already had commissioned any such missiles.
He said he had shown the working principles of the missile systems to French President Jacques Chirac during a visit to a Russian military facility.
"He knows what I'm talking about," news agencies quoted Putin as telling reporters after state-run news channels had cut their live broadcast of the news conference.
Putin said that the new missiles were capable of changing both the altitude and the direction of their flight, making it impossible for an enemy to intercept them.
"A missile defense system is designed to counter missiles moving along a ballistic trajectory," Putin was quoted as saying.
Putin and other Russian officials have boasted of the new missiles in similar comments in recent years, but they haven't identified them or given any further details other than about their ability to change their flight path on approach to a target.
Most analysts viewed the earlier announcements about "hypersonic" missile systems as Moscow's response to U.S. missile defense plans.
Military analysts have said that the military had experimented with a maneuvering warhead during a missile launch several years ago, but voiced doubt about Russia's ability to deploy such weapons anytime soon.
Analysts said the new warheads, designed to zigzag on their approach to targets, could be fitted to new land-based Topol-M missiles and the prospective Bulava missiles, now under development.
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