Russia tests nuclear-capable missile that Putin calls the best in the world

  • Sarmat launch comes at a time of extreme tension over Ukraine
  • Putin claims it can dodge missile defenses
  • Test follows years of design and funding delays

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) – In a statement of strength two months after the attack on Ukraine, Russia has launched a new nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile, which President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday would give Moscow’s enemies food for thought.

Putin was featured on TV and was told by the military that the much-anticipated Sarmat missile had first launched from Plesetsk in northwestern Russia and hit targets on the Kamchatka Peninsula, nearly 6,000 km (3,700 miles) away.

The test of the Sarmat, which has been in development for years, did not surprise the West, but came at a time of extreme geopolitical tension. Russia has not taken any major cities since it sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24.

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The Ukrainian Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

“The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is able to overcome all modern means of anti-missile defense. It has no analogues in the world and it will not last long,” Putin said.

“This truly unique weapon will enhance the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security against outside threats and give food for thought to those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, seek to threaten our country.”

When he announced the invasion eight weeks ago, Putin made a stark reference to Russia’s nuclear forces, warning the West that any attempt to get in his way “will lead you to consequences you have never encountered in your history.” “.

Days later, he ordered the Russian nuclear forces to be placed on high alert. “The prospect of a nuclear conflict, once unimaginable, is now possible again,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the Sarmat was fired from a silo tanker at 1512 Moscow time (1212 GMT).

The Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile is launched during a test at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, in this still image taken from a video released on April 20, 2022. Russian Ministry of Defense/via REUTERS

Russia’s nuclear forces will begin taking delivery of the new missile “in the fall of this year” once tests are complete, Tass quoted on Wednesday as quoted Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos space agency.

SYMBOLIC TIME

Jack Watling of the RUSI think tank in London said there was an element of attitude and symbolism at play less than three weeks before the annual Victory Day parade where Russia shows off its latest weapons.

“The timing of the test reflects that the Russians want something to show as a technological achievement leading up to Victory Day, at a time when much of their technology has not delivered the results they would have liked,” Watling said. †

Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the launch was a major milestone after years of delays due to funding issues and design challenges.

He said more tests would be needed before Russia could actually deploy it in place of aging SS-18 and SS-19 missiles that were “well past their sell-by date”.

Barrie said the Sarmat’s ability to carry 10 or more warheads and decoys, and Russia’s option to fire it over either Earth’s pole, presented a challenge to ground- and satellite-based radar and tracking systems.

Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the Russian magazine National Defense, told the RIA news agency that it was a signal to the West that Moscow was able to offer “shattering retaliation that will end the history of any country that has encroached on the security of Russia and its people”.

Ukraine has resisted vigorously and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions to force Russia to withdraw its troops, says Moscow, which is conducting a special operation to degrade its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and wipe out people it calls dangerous nationalists .

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Additional reporting by Peter Hobson and David Ljunggren; Editing by Howard Goller and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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