Putin: New weapons will offer Russia reliable protection

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with officials in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The meeting focused on language issues. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2019

Putin: New weapons will offer Russia reliable protection

  • Russia’s relations with the West have plunged to the lowest levels since the Cold War years over the conflict in Ukraine and other disputes

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s new weapons have no foreign equivalents but he insists the country will not use them to threaten anyone.

Speaking during a meeting Tuesday with senior military officers, Putin said no other countries have hypersonic, laser and other prospective weapons that have been commissioned by the Russian military, adding that “it’s not a reason to threaten anyone.”

Putin claimed the new weapons systems are designed exclusively to “ensure our security in view of the growing threats” and vowed to pursue arms control efforts.

Russia’s relations with the West have plunged to the lowest levels since the Cold War years over the conflict in Ukraine and other disputes.
In 2018, Putin announced an array of new weapons, including a hypersonic glide vehicle, a nuclear-armed underwater drone and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.


US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

Updated 07 December 2019

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

  • The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence
  • Permanent cease-fire would be the eventual goal, said a US statement

KABUL: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held on Saturday the first official talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September.
The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a US statement. Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict.
The meetings being held in the Middle eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with Ghani calling him a US puppet.
Ghani leads the Afghan government with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the United States after the presidential elections in 2014 were so deeply mired in corruption that a clear winner could not be determined.
To head off a conflict Washington stepped in and forced the two leading candidates __ Ghani and Abdullah __ to share power in a so-called Unity Government that has been largely paralyzed because of the relentless bickering between the two leaders.
The Afghan government is now embroiled in a fresh elections standoff. Presidential polls on Sept. 28 again ended in accusations of misconduct and corruption, with no results yet announced.
Repeat leading contender Abdullah has challenged the recounting of several hundred thousand ballots, accusing his opponent Ghani of trying to manipulate the tally.
Meanwhile, Khalilzad’s return to his peace mission followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan in which he said talks with the Taliban were back on.
While Khalilzad is talking to the Taliban about reducing violence, the US military in its daily report said overnight on Saturday US airstrikes killed 37 Taliban and operations by the Afghan National Security Forces killed another 22 of the militants.
The insurgents have continued to carry put near daily strikes against military outposts throughout the country. They now hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan.
Trump has expressed frustration with America’s longest war repeatedly saying he wants to bring the estimated 12,000 US soldiers home and calling on Afghanistan’s own police and military to step up. The Afghan government has also been criticized for its relentless corruption.