Earlier, commenting on an explosion which occured last Thursday during testing of a Russian-made liquid-propellant rocket engine, US President Donald Trump claimed that the test involved Russia’s new nuclear-powered cruise missile, and boasted that the US had “similar, though more advanced, technology.”

Moscow is not at all surprised about President Trump’s boasting over US research into advanced missile technology, given the immense sums of money Washington spends on defence, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

“Over the past year, US officials, including military officials, have made several statements about the US’s similar research programmes,” Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

“It would be strange, of course, if a global power which spends more on defence than all other countries in the world did not engage in such projects,” the presidential spokesman noted.

Nonetheless, Peskov stressed that whatever developments the US may be engaged in in this area, Russian missile systems remain superior, at least for the moment. “Our country’s president has repeatedly said that Russian developments in this area are, for now, far ahead of the levels reached by other countries, and are quite unique,” he said. 

On Saturday, Rosatom confirmed that a deadly accident during the testing of “new pieces of armament” in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region last week claimed the lives of five of its employees, injuring three others. US President Donald Trump commented on the accident with a tweet alleging that the “failed missile explosion in Russia” involved ‘Skyfall’, the NATO reporting name for the 9M730 Burevestnik, an experimental nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missile with an unlimited range.

Russian officials did not specify the type of system involved in Thursday’s deadly accident.

The Burevestnik (‘Petrel’) was one of six new Russian strategic weapons systems announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018. Putin said the weapons were aimed at guaranteeing Russia’s strategic response capability amid the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, NATO’s continual expansion along Russia’s western borders, and the deployment of nuclear cruise-missile capable launch systems at US missile defence sites in Romania and Poland.

The Russian military previously released footage of testing of the Burevestnik system.

Earlier this year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculated that Russia’s total spending on defence amounted to $63.8 billion in 2018, compared to the $649 billion in spending by the US the same year. The NATO alliance’s total defence expenditures are expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2019, with Russia recently dropping out of the top five countries in terms of total defence spending.

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