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James Stavridis

Putin's Video Superweapons Are Just His Virtual Reality

Many of the weapons the Russian president bragged about are fantasy, but his chilling tone was a new reality.
Look in front of the curtain.

Look in front of the curtain.

Photographer: Yuri Kadobnav/AFP/Getty Images

I always admired the way Steve Jobs could enrapture the world about a new product. His briefings of Apple breakthroughs over the years were legendary, and featured huge visuals behind him as he paced the stage. He was not just an innovator but also a master communicator. When I had to give addresses back in my military days, I would dive into Carmine Gallo’s “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” for inspiration.

Watching Russian President Vladimir Putin roll out a similar display of fearsome new weapons at his state of the federation speech the other day had the distinct feeling of watching a Steve Jobs-style brief put together by "Q," the gadget-loving quartermaster from MI6, in a twisted James Bond movie. But this bag of tricks is neither a new iPhone nor an Aston Martin with machine guns, or even an exploding pen. Putin was talking about nuclear weapons moving toward the U.S. on a variety of new platforms. How seriously should we take this?