Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday dismissed a threat by Russia to use new laser defense weapons in Ukraine, mockingly calling them “wunderwaffe” — so-called nonexistent wonder weapons developed by Nazi Germany in a bid to prevent defeat in World War Two.
His remarks came after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told state TV that Moscow had developed laser systems that “are many times more powerful, allowing for the incineration of various targets,” the state-run news agency TASS reported.
According to the report, the new system — dubbed the Zadira — had destroyed a drone at a distance of five kilometers (three miles) within 10 seconds during a test.
Asked if such weapons were being used in Ukraine, Borisov said: “Yes. The first prototypes are already being used there.”
While no evidence has so far appeared to verify these claims, during an unveiling of a series of new weapons in 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned the existence of a laser weapons system named Peresvet.
Little is known about the specifics of the weapon, named after a medieval Orthodox warrior monk Alexander Peresvet who perished in mortal combat.
It also remains unclear whether Peresvet and Zadira are the same or two separate weapon systems.
“The clearer it became they [the Nazis] had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon,” Zelensky said in an address to Ukraine on Thursday.
“Russia is trying to find its wunderwaffe. Allegedly laser. All this clearly indicates the complete failure of the invasion,” he said.
The world’s militaries have been steadily developing laser weapons meant to take down drones — but most are in the test or prototype stage, with their military value in a confrontation remaining unknown.
In April, Israel unveiled Iron Beam — a new laser air defense system it has been developing to shoot down drones, rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles.