'Russia has hypersonic weapons', says Putin amid outrage in Ukraine over his Mariupol visit
"Russia does not use hypersonic weapons in fact now, though it has them, same as other cutting-edge systems," Putin said in an interview
Russia has hypersonic weapons. But it does not use them in fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
"Russia does not use hypersonic weapons in fact now, though it has them, same as other cutting-edge systems," Putin said in an interview for the "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on Rossiya-1 TV channel published by journalist Pavel Zarubin on his Telegram channel on Sunday.
"Indeed, we have to do much, let’s say, for the development of land forces, but back then [in 2014] there were no hypersonic weapons, though they exist now! Yes, we do not use them in fact, but we have them. Do you understand? There are other cutting-edge systems as well, though in 2014 there was nothing of the kind," Putin said, according to TASS.
Asked whether it was worth starting the special operation in 2014, he stressed that the reality has changed since then: "Conjunctive mood cannot be used here!".
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the international community.
Meanwhile, Putin paid an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the Kremlin announced on March 19, according to US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Putin flew by helicopter to the southeastern city, which has been destroyed by Russian bombardments, for a "working visit," Russian state media reported. He visited several sites in the city and spoke with residents, the report said.
The visit comes a day after Putin visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.
Ukraine's defence ministry said on Twitter Putin visited the city at night "as befits a thief".
According to an AFP report published by Kyiv Post, The Russian leader took a tour of the city and was seen driving a car. The Kremlin said he visited a rebuilt musical theatre and followed the presentation of a report on reconstruction work. "We're praying for you," a resident told Putin, referring to the city as "a little piece of paradise", according to images broadcast by Russian state TV, showing the visit took place at night.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the visit was "spontaneous", adding that Putin's movements around the city and his meeting with locals were not planned, the report said.
He added that the visit took place "very late" on Saturday and in the early hours of Sunday.
It was Putin's first trip to the eastern Donbas region since he launched the invasion in February 2022, and comes almost a year after Moscow announced the capture of Mariupol after a campaign that saw the destruction of the Azovstal steel works, the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city.
Mariupol was left devastated after Moscow relentlessly bombarded the city on the shores of the Sea of Azov and subjected it to a brutal siege.
"The criminal always returns to the crime scene... the murderer of thousands of Mariupol families came to admire the ruins of the city and (its) graves. Cynicism and lack of remorse," Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak said on Twitter.