- The Russian Defense Ministry announced Moscow recently conducted a successful test launch of an “advanced” intercontinental ballistic missile.
- The launch follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February decision to suspend his country’s last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.
- The missile test also comes after Putin announced in February that he will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Russia conducted a successful test launch of an “advanced” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday, according to a statement from the country’s defense ministry.
Sky News called the launch the “first successful public test” of such a weapon by Moscow since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in February that he was suspending his country’s participation in the New START treaty, which was the last remaining nuclear arms control pact it had with the United States. His withdrawal from the treaty drew a denunciation from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who responded to the move by saying during a news conference that Putin had made it “clear” that “he’s preparing for more war.”
The test also follows Putin’s March announcement that he would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The decision resulted in condemnation from world leaders, but Putin defended the deployment of nukes in the neighboring Eastern European country by saying the United States has long put tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not specify what type of missile was used in the launch but referred to the exercise as a way to “test advanced combat equipment of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” according to a translation by Russian state media outlet TASS.
The defense ministry’s statement detailed that the launch took place from the Kapustin Yar test area in Russia’s Astrakhan region and hit a site in the allied country of Kazakhstan.
Guy McCardle, the managing editor of Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP), told Newsweek that calling ICBMs “advanced” is unnecessary since such missiles are advanced in nature, “or they would not be able to accomplish the ‘intercontinental’ part.”
McCardle said that he “would venture to say that all Russian ICBMs can carry nuclear payloads, with some being able to deploy multiple nuclear warheads.”
Over the past year, Russia has reportedly tested a missile known as the RS-28 Sarmat, which has been dubbed “Satan II” by media outlets because it will replace another ICBM known as “Satan.” Though not confirmed, there has been online speculation that a Sarmat may have been the missile tested in Kapustin Yar.
McCardle called Sarmats “monsters” that weigh over 200 tons with the capability to “deploy 10 heavy or 15 light MIRV thermonuclear warheads and up to 24 of their Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV).”
“HGV are pretty mighty hypersonic glider warheads that can be independently guided into their targets faster than the speed of sound,” he said. “The Sarmat has an operational range of about 11,000 miles, so they can reach out and strike just about anywhere on the globe.”
McCardle added that his guess is that Putin “wants to remind us that he still has the power to reach out and destroy entire cities anywhere on the planet if he feels like it.”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email for comment.