Russian state media published video earlier today of its latest laser weapons system, the Peresvet. The move comes just a day after the U.S. said it would likely pull out of a key arms treaty between the two countries, and the timing of the video’s release doesn’t appear to be a coincidence.
“Peresvet laser systems, based on new physical principles, entered combat service in [a] testing regime with the Russian armed forces,” Russian Defense Ministry’s newspaper said, according to an English translation.
What can the Peresvet laser system do? So far, Russia isn’t giving us any specifics. But the country wants to assure America that if the U.S. pulls out of the INF Treaty, as the U.S. State Department threatened to do yesterday, Russia is ready to go so far as to attack European countries if it must.
“If the INF treaty is destroyed, we won’t leave it without a response,” General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov said today in Russia while addressing military leaders. “You as military professionals must understand that the target for Russian retaliation won’t be U.S. territory but the countries where the intermediate-range missiles are deployed.”
The INF Treaty bans the deployment of new intermediate-range nuclear weapons with a range between 310 miles and 3,400 miles (500km and 5,500km)—the kind of high-powered missiles that would pose a threat to Russia if placed in nearby European countries like Poland and Romania.