Sarmat: Russia tests new nuclear-capable missile, Vladimir Putin warns enemies
Russia successfully test-fired its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), called the Sarmat, on Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin proclaimed it to be the world's "best" and said it will make Moscow's rivals "think twice" before threatening the country. The missile was reportedly fired from Plesetsk in northwest Russia and hit targets about 6,000km away in the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East. Here's more.
- While Russia's test launch does not surprise the West, it comes at a time when global tensions are at an all-time high due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
- Earlier, the West had voiced worries the conflict may grow into a nuclear war.
- To recall, four days into the war, on February 28, President Putin had ordered Russia's nuclear forces to be placed on high alert.
Putin congratulated the Russian military on the successful test launch of Sarmat, adding the "truly unique weapon" would strengthen the combat potential of the country's armed forces. In a televised address, the president said Sarmat will "reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats, and make those who - in the heat of aggressive rhetoric - try to threaten our country think twice."
Sarmat has the capacity to carry 10 or more warheads and decoys, said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Barie told Al Jazeera that Russia can fire it over either of the Earth's poles posing a challenge to the ground and satellite-based radar and tracking systems worldwide. "This complicates where you've got to look," he said.
Moreover, Putin said the Sarmat missile has "the highest tactical and technical characteristics" and is also "capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defense." He further asserted, "It has no analogs in the world and won't have for a long time to come."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon stated that Russia test-firing Sarmat was not considered a danger to the US and its allies as Moscow had already informed them. US Department of Defense Spokesperson John Kirby said Moscow "properly notified" Washington of the test as required by the 2011 New START Treaty, which set limitations on both the nations' nuclear weapons.
Igor Korotchenko—Russian journalist and defense analyst—said Sarmat's test was a message to the West that Moscow was capable of destroying any hostile country. Furthermore, London-based RUSI thinktank's Jack Watling claimed there was an "element of posturing and symbolism" involved in Russia's move. Watling noted the test happened eight weeks after Russia's Ukraine invasion and about three weeks before its annual Victory Day parade.