Speed Reads

Sound and fury signifying nothing

Biden says Russia's debut of hypersonic missile in Ukraine shows 'Putin's back against the wall'

President Biden on Monday confirmed that Russia has used its new hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces deployed the "consequential weapon" for the first time "because it's the only thing that they can get through without absolute certainty." Since the super-fast missile has "the same warhead on it as any other launch missile, it doesn't make that much difference, except it's almost impossible to stop it," he told a Business Roundtable CEO Quarterly Meeting.

"There's a reason they're using it," Biden said. "Putin's back against the wall, he wasn't anticipating the extent or strength of our unity, and the more his back is against the wall, the greater severity of the tactics he may employ."

Britain's Ministry of Defense made a similar argument Monday evening. The hypersonic missiles Russia purportedly launched "were likely the Kinzhal," or "dagger," an air-launched ballistic missile system similar to missiles Russia has already used "heavily" in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said in its latest public intelligence briefing. "Russian claims of having used the developmental Kinzhal is highly likely intended to detract from a lack of progress in Russia's ground campaign. Deployment of Kinzhal is highly unlikely to materially affect the outcome of Russia's campaign in Ukraine."

Ukrainian forces are "wreaking havoc on the Russian military, whether it's their tanks or their helicopters or their aircraft," thanks in part to the hundreds of millions of dollars in defensive aid the U.S. and its NATO allies have given Ukraine already, Biden said. "The idea that they don't have enough sophisticated equipment is just simply not accurate," he added. "They have every equipment, every piece of equipment that makes rational sense based on our military and NATO's military to be able to do what they're doing."