russiamissilesThe deputy prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Ragozin, said Monday that a breakthrough in Russian missile technology means that the United States will no longer be able to intercept Russian ballistic nuclear missiles. The claim, which relates to an unspecified technology, came just a day after NATO leaders announced a summit in February to discuss the alliance’s strategy in dealing with Russia’s nuclear threat. But rather than an ominous throwback to the nuclear deterrence of the Cold War, based on mutually assured destruction, this may be a way for Russia to still look like a superpower, despite a deepening economic crisis and backlash from the West due to its involvement in the East Ukraine war. “I believe the comments go beyond defense and nuclear deterrents,” said Steven Pifer, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine between 1998 and 2000 and was President Bill Clinton’s special assistant on issues relating to Russia and Ukraine from 1996 to 1997. “If you’re Vladimir Putin and you’re trying to cling to and portray an image of Moscow as a superpower, nuclear weapons is the only thing you have left to cite since the economy is suffering badly.” Ragozin said the details of the technology would “not be disclosed to anybody” and that Russian technology “shows that neither the current, nor even the projected American missile defense system could stop or cast doubt on Russia’s strategic missile potential.” His comments regarding missile defense conjure memories of the U.S. proposal to build a missile defense hub in Poland and the Czech Republic. The project was scrapped in 2009 amid Russia’s objections that it was a direct threat. More