With all the talk about the Kim Jong Un’s nuke and the summit with North Korea, people may have forgotten about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s announcement earlier this year about having a nuclear-powered cruise missile with “unlimited range.”

via GIPHY

It appears that Putin may have spoken prematurely. Unless twenty two miles falls within the Russian definition of “unlimited range.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin bragged earlier this year that his country had a new nuclear-powered missile with unlimited range — but it has yet to perform a successful test over multiple attempts, according to sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report on the weapons program.

The cruise missile was tested four times between November and February, each resulting in a crash, according to sources who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity.

Ok, this is all very sketchy source-wise but it hearkens back to the Cold War days when the game was not only to hide secrets about the weapons you had but also to make the enemy think you had weapons that you didn’t have.

Back in March, Putin talked up Russia’s military capabilities in his annual State of the Union speech. It seems that like our own Presidents’ SOTUs, Russia’s are a lot more campaign style spectacle than anything else. Claiming success for things not yet achieved must be a universal political phenomenon.

Telling the audience that more was to come, Putin also said Russia had another weapon that was a “small nuclear power energy system” — a nuclear warhead — that can be deployed on a cruise missile system that can also, he claimed, “avoid all interceptors.”

He said the country had tested this cruise missile with the “nuclear power energy unit” in 2017 and it was successful. Russia would start manufacturing this now, he added.

“This is unheard of and nobody else has such a system in the world. They might create something like this in the future but by then our guys will have created something new as well.”

Putin joked that the two new strategic nuclear weapons he described — the global cruise missile and the subsurface unmanned vehicle — did not have names yet and lawmakers could submit their suggestions via the Defense Ministry website.

Showman-like in the delivery of his address, Putin told the audience “but even this is not the end,” unveiling a system capable of destroying intercontinental targets with “hypersonic speed.”

U.S. intelligence reports suggest that these programs are being oversold by Putin.

The cruise missile was tested four times between November and February, each resulting in a crash, according to sources who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity.

The U.S. assessed that the longest test flight lasted just more than two minutes, with the missile flying 22 miles before losing control and crashing. The shortest test lasted four seconds and flew for five miles.

One report, according to the sources, did not mention health or environmental risks posed by damages to the missile’s nuclear reactor.

The weapon, which has been in development since the early 2000s, is believed to use a gasoline-powered engine for takeoff before switching to a nuclear-powered one for flight, sources explained to CNBC.

The tests apparently showed that the nuclear-powered heart of the cruise missile failed to initiate and, therefore, the weapon was unable to achieve the indefinite flight Putin had boasted about.

What we know about the Russians, especially a cagy old KGB guy like Putin, is that they’ll make great sacrifices to make these systems work if possible. Success may be a long way off though.