Following Russia’s first successful test-launch Wednesday of its deadly Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), dubbed by the West as the “Satan II,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said nations who threaten his country with “aggressive rhetoric” will “think twice.”
Putin called the missile’s development “a big, significant event” for Russia’s defense industry and said the Sarmat will “ensure Russia’s security from external threats and make those who try to threaten our country with aggressive rhetoric think twice,” according to the Daily Mail.
“The missile can break through all modern anti-missile defenses,” Putin claimed. “There is nothing like this anywhere in the world, and won’t be for a long time.”
Reportedly the longest-range ICBM, the Sarmat can carry 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys — enough to take out territories the size of France in one strike — and can hit a target as far as 11,200 miles away, meaning the United States and Europe are easily in range.
Moscow reports the missiles will be ready for deployment by autumn, but according to Reuters, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Rosocosmos space agency, may be overly ambitious with a fall deployment date. Western military experts have said that, with only one successful test launch barely under their belt, more tests will be needed before it’s ready to be deployed.
Nonetheless, reports Reuters, this week’s test, after years of technical and funding delays, “marks a show of strength by Russia at a time when the war in Ukraine has sent tensions with the United States and its allies soaring to their highest levels since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.”
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In an interview on Russian state TV, Rogozin said the Satan II would be deployed with a unit about 1,860 miles east of Moscow, in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia.
According to Rogozin, the Sarmat will occupy the same sites and silos currently occupied by the Soviet-era Voyvoda missiles, saving Russia “colossal resources and time.”
Rogozin called the launch of the “super weapon” an historic event and said the Sarmat would guarantee the security of Russia’s children and grandchildren for the next 30-40 years.
Able to travel at speeds that reach 16,000 mph, the missile can launch the Avangard, “Russia’s first hypersonic missile, which can travel at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere at more than ten times the speed of sound,” the Daily Mail reports.
And according to Colonel-General Sergey Karakayev, head of Moscow’s strategic missile forces, Russia plans to develop still more hypersonic missiles.
“By the time they [the West] find an antidote, we must have found another solution to this,” Karakayev said. “There are developments, there is work in progress.”
Jack Watling, of the Royal United Services Institute, a defense think-tank, dismissed the timing of the test as little more than posturing ahead of Russia’s annual May 9th Victory Day celebration, during which the Kremlin traditionally shows off its military might.
“The timing of the test reflects the Russians wanting to have something to show as a technological achievement in the lead-up to Victory Day, at a time when a lot of their technology has not delivered the results they would have liked in Ukraine,” Watling said.
But in light of Putin’s speech in February marking the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in which he warned outside nations that attempt to get in Russia’s way “will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history,” many in the West worry the risk of nuclear war has gone risen.
“The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month.
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