Russia releases video claiming to be another test of deadly new nuclear capacity

DCNFRyan Pickrell, DCNF

The Russian defense ministry released a video Friday of what Moscow claims is the second test of the nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon designed to render American defenses “useless.”

 

The RS-28 Sarmat, a superheavy liquid-fueled ICBM built to replace the Soviet-era Voyevoda, was launched at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Archangel Province, Russia. The test, the exact date of which is unknown, is reportedly the second test of the Sarmat-2 since testing began in December last year.

The Sarmat is a MIRV-equipped missile believed to be capable of carrying 10 to 15 thermonuclear warheads. The weapon has been in development by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau since 2009, but the weapon is expected to be mass produced in 2020 and made operational the following year, according to state media reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally praised the missile at a speech to Federal Assembly in Moscow earlier this month. He said that the new Sarmat ICBM is so “formidable” it “has practically no distance limits” and “none of the perspective anti-ballistic missile systems pose an obstacle to it.” Putin suggested that the missile could be armed with supersonic warheads and defense countermeasures to skirt ABM systems. The weapon is designed to devastate an area the size of Texas.

“I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years, gain unilateral advantages over Russia, and introduce unlawful restrictions and sanctions to hinder our country’s development … you have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said in a televised address. “No one listened to us, but you will listen to us now.”

The release of the video comes during a particularly tense time in U.S.-Russian relations, as the two sides are now involved in a tit-for-tat exchange involving the expulsion of diplomats and shuttering of diplomatic missions over alleged Russian involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy on British soil with a Cold War-era chemical weapon developed by the Soviet Union.

The escalating arms race between the two countries is also of particular concern, although President Donald Trump reportedly warned Putin not to challenge the U.S. on this front. “If you want to have an arms race, we can do that, but I’ll win,” Trump apparently told Putin in a recent phone call.

The president has repeatedly stressed the need for a strong military to counter growing threats from revisionist powers like Russia and China, rogue actors like North Korea and Iran, and extremism.

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