Vladimir Putin sends warship armed with hypersonic missile past UK on Atlantic mission

Vladimir Putin delivers a New Year’s address to the nation at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin delivers a New Year’s address to the nation at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sent a frigate to the Atlantic Ocean armed with hypersonic cruise missiles in a fresh warning to the west that he will not back down on Ukraine.

Speaking in a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said the ship was armed with Zircon hypersonic weapons that would “reliably protect Russia from potential external threats”.

Putin claimed the weapons “had no analogues in any country in the world”.

It comes just ten months after Moscow began a bloody invasion of Ukraine, costing thousands of military and civilian lives. Russia has been forced to abandon much of its territory in the south and east in recent months following successful Ukrainian counter attacks.

Russia, China and the United States are in a race to develop hypersonic weapons due to their speeds – above five times the speed of sound – and manoeuvrability.

A file image of a hypersonic missile launch (AP)
A file image of a hypersonic missile launch (AP)

Moscow has already used its hypersonic Kinzhal “dagger” missile in Ukraine.

Mr Shoigu said the Gorshkov ship, which contained the missiles, would sail to the Atlantic and Indian oceans and to the Mediterranean Sea.

He claimed the hypersonic missiles could overcome any missile defence system and would deliver “pinpoint and powerful strikes against the enemy at sea and on land”.

The missiles fly at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of over 1,000 km, Mr Shoigu said.

Beyond Russia, the United States and China, a range of other countries are developing hypersonic weapons including Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, North Korea and Japan, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

In other developments, Russia continued to suffer heavy losses in Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday amid heavy fighting, according to the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces.

Ukrainian officials claimed that up to 10 Russian units of military equipment of different types were destroyed and over two hundred soldiers wounded or killed.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was planning to call up more troops for a major new offensive in the coming months.

"We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can round up to try to turn the tide of the war and at least delay their defeat," he said in his nightly video address on Tuesday.

"We have to disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for this. The terrorists must lose. Any attempt at their new offensive must fail."