Russia has placed its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile on combat alert, bringing into commission a weapon capable of carrying nuclear warheads that President Vladimir Putin earlier said would guarantee the nation’s security.
(Bloomberg) — Russia has placed its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile on combat alert, bringing into commission a weapon capable of carrying nuclear warheads that President Vladimir Putin earlier said would guarantee the nation’s security.
The head of Roscosmos, Yury Borisov, made the announcement Friday, according to the Interfax news service.
Putin revealed the ICBM in a March 2018 speech where he touted a series of new modern weapons that he said were capable of rendering US missile defenses “ineffective.” He called Sarmat a “unique weapon,” and a video presentation during his speech appeared to show warheads closing in on a map of South Florida.
But the first test launch was only conducted in April last year, two months after the start of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. The missile was due to enter service at the end of 2022, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news service, though that deadline passed. Putin said in June that the missiles would be deployed soon.
Whether the Sarmat, which Russia has said can strike over the North or South Pole, works reliably is unclear. In February, a test launch appears to have failed, CNN reported, citing US officials.
Read more: Russia Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable ICBM in Warning to U.S. Allies
Throughout the war in Ukraine, Putin has repeatedly warned the US and its allies against involvement in the conflict, hinting at Russia’s willingness to use any weapon in its arsenal to protect its security.
In February, Russia suspended participation in a key nuclear-arms pact with the US. Putin said that while Russia wouldn’t be the first to resume nuclear weapons tests, it would do so in response to any US testing.
(Updates with details of missile tests in fourth, fifth paragraphs)
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