In Ukraine, Russia employs advanced laser weaponry, which Zelenskiy mocks as a “wonder weapon”

On Wednesday, Russia said it was employing a new generation of advanced laser weaponry to burn down drones in Ukraine, deploying some of Moscow’s secret weapons to confront a flood of Western arms. Putin revealed an intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon, and a laser weapon in 2018. The new laser’s technical specifications are unknown. Putin highlighted Peresvet, which was named after Alexander Peresvet, a mediaeval Orthodox warrior monk who died in mortal combat.

Peresvet, according to Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development, is already widely deployed and can blind satellites up to 1,500 kilometres above Earth. He said that more powerful devices than Peresvet already existed that could destroy drones and other equipment. Borisov mentioned a Tuesday test in which he claimed a drone 5 kilometres away was destroyed in five seconds.

Advanced Laser Weaponry

“If Peresvet blinds, then the new generation of laser weaponry results in the target’s physical devastation – thermal destruction, they burn up,” he told Russian state television. “Yes,” Borisov answered when asked if such weapons were deployed in Ukraine. There, the first prototypes are already in use.” He said the weapon’s name was “Zadira.” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy mockingly linked the news of the lasers to Nazi Germany’s so-called “wonder weapons” unveiled in an attempt to avoid defeat during World War Two.

“The more it became evident that they had no hope in the war,” he claimed in a late-night video speech, “the more propaganda there was about a wonderful weapon that would be so powerful that it would ensure a turning point.” “And so we see that Russia is trying to find its ‘wonder weapon’ in the third month of a full-scale war… this all clearly reveals the mission’s complete failure.” Almost nothing is known about Zadira, but Russian media reported in 2017 that the state nuclear enterprise Rosatom assisted in its development as part of a campaign to develop weapons-based new physical principles.

The invasion of Ukraine has exposed the limitations of Russia’s post-Soviet conventional armed forces, despite Putin’s assurances that the “special military operation” is proceeding according to plan. Borisov’s comments suggest that Russia has made substantial progress with laser weapons, a trend that other nuclear countries such as the US and China are watching closely. The use of lasers to blind satellites was once a science fiction fantasy, but the US, China, and Russia have been developing variants of such weapons for years.

Aside from the obvious benefit of destroying drones, blinding reconnaissance systems has a strategic consequence, as satellites are employed to track nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles. Borisov claimed to have just returned from Sarov, Russia’s nuclear weapons research centre. He predicted that a new generation of laser weapons with a broad electromagnetic band will eventually supplant conventional weapons.

“This is not some fantastical notion; it is fact,” Borisov explained.

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