Putin on war path: Russia plans military boost as deadly missile fear lingers over NATO.

The Russian President said on Monday the Russian Navy should bolster its combat capabilities in order to make its ships compatible with the Tsirkon missile. Mr Putin said: “In the coming years, it is necessary to actively build up the Navy’s combat capabilities. “This largely depends on the planned delivery of frigates and submarines upgraded for employing Tsirkon hypersonic missiles to the Navy’s combat structure.”

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The announcement was made while in a meeting with defence representatives, where Mr Putin called on his colleagues to cooperate with government and military to improve its weaponry.

Russian media reported last month the Tsirkon hypersonic missile will be tested before the end of the year in the White Sea, located close by and to the south of the Arctic region.

An unnamed source told the state-run news agency TASS that the test would take place at a naval range, marking another worrying twist as Russian war games and military exercises continue.

The source said: “A Tsirkon missile is expected to be launched from the White Sea before the end of the year. The specific date will be set as soon as the technical equipment is ready.”

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While some details surrounding the weapon are subject to speculation among experts, President Putin confirmed the missile was under development and also shared some chilling details about its capabilities.

Mr Putin said in February: “This is a hypersonic missile called Tsirkon. It will have the speed of mach 9, it has a range of 1,000 km (620 miles) and can hit navy or land targets.”

The Russian President also sent a defiant message to the US, claiming Russia will always try to match Washington’s military developments.

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Mr Putin added: “The US once sought global domination through its missiles program. They should abandon illusions, we will always respond with a reciprocal response.”

Russia’s emphasis on weapons development comes at a bad time for NATO allies who are currently in disagreement regarding how to deal with the threat of Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint news conference in Paris alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last week: “Is our enemy today Russia? Or China? Is it the goal of NATO to designate them as enemies? I don’t believe so.”

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Some of the French President’s decisions also appear to have played directly in Mr Putin’s hands.

Mr Macron’s decision to block the entry of North Macedonia and Albania from joining the EU sparked fury from many within the bloc, including recently departed President of the European Council.

Mr Tusk described the decision as a “mistake”, and given the vulnerability of the Balkan states to Russian influence, the decision may have aided President Putin’s anti-expansion objectives.

Ahead of the NATO summit this week, division is rife within the alliance, and it seems Mr Putin can sense an opportunity to advance his military objectives.

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