Russia has claimed to be using laser weapons in its invasion of Ukraine, leading President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to compare the state to Nazis during the tail end of World War II.
Deputy prime minister in charge of military development in Russia, Yury Borisov, said at a conference on Wednesday that a laser weapon called Peresvet was already up and running, being deployed in Ukraine. It is claimed that a drone had been burned from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away in five seconds in a test on Tuesday.
The Peresvet weapon – named after a Russian Orthodox monk who fought in single combat at the opening of the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, in which both combatants died – was first mentioned by President Putin in 2018.
Under favorable weather conditions, it is claimed that the bulky weapon can be used to take down drones, though the vast energy consumption makes them not well suited as a portable weapon. The deputy prime minister claimed that the laser can be used to blind satellites.
"It is already being mass-supplied to the (missile) troops, and it can blind all satellite reconnaissance systems of a likely enemy in orbits of up to 1,500 km, disabling them during the flight due to the use of laser radiation,” he said.
Borisov also claimed that a new laser weapon named "Zadira" has also been deployed in Ukraine.
"If Peresvet blinds, then the new generation of laser weapons lead to the physical destruction of the target – thermal destruction, they burn up," Reuters reports he told Russian state television, adding "the first prototypes are already being used there." Borisov went on to claim that the new generation of weapons used a wide electromagnetic band, and would one day replace conventional weapons entirely.
Though they might sound like science-fiction, laser weapons have been under development in the US too, and have been shown to successfully shoot down drones during tests.
President Zelensky was unimpressed by the claims of new weapons, comparing the propaganda to that of the Nazis at the end of World War II, as it became clear that they were going to lose.
"The clearer it became that they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about an amazing weapon that would be so powerful as to ensure a turning point," Zelensky responded to the claim.
"And so we see that in the third month of a full-scale war, Russia is trying to find its 'wonder weapon' ... this all clearly shows the complete failure of the mission."