President Vladimir Putin on Thursday revealed a bizarre and unexpected exchange between he and Trump which Putin explained occurred last June at the G20 summit in Japan.
Putin said he was ready to sell the United States some of Russia's latest developing and most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missile systems, if Trump was willing to return to serious strategic arms talks after the US backed out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). As Bloomberg relates of the fresh comments made at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok:
“I told Donald, ‘if you want, we’ll sell them to you and that’s how we keep everything balanced right away’,” Putin said at the plenary session also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Premier Narendra Modi. While the U.S. side argued it would soon have such weapons, Putin said “why waste money when we have already spent it and we can get something for it that doesn’t harm our security?”
The context of the offer reportedly involved early speculation and discussion of how any future new arms agreement might account for Russia's developing hypersonic arsenal, and as the New START agreement is set to expire in 2021.
Putin divulged the exchange in front of an audience that included Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Premier Narendra Modi.
Last year Russia's defense ministry touted a range of experimental weapons it said could counter and evade any US anti-aircraft defense measures, including a nuclear-powered missile that could traverse the globe endlessly.
It was that very experimental nuke-fueled cruise missile widely believed to have been source of a significant radiation leak after an explosion at a military testing ground in Russia’s northern Arkhangelsk region. One US defense analysts had described it as "an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile known in Russia as the 9M730 Burevestnik and by Nato as the SSC-X-9 Skyfall."
Trump in the days after the Aug. 8 'mystery explosion' tweeted he was concerned about the "air around the facility" in the wake of the accident. But in that statement the president revealed the US possesses "similar, though more advanced, technology".
"The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology," he said.
This of course suggests Washington would have absolutely no need for Putin's claimed hypersonic weapons — though of course the offer itself, full of Putin's hallmark bravado, was the real message.