On Wednesday, the Russian military announced a test launch of what it says is its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the RS-28 Sarmat. Reacting to the launch, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the new weapon “will make those who, in the heat of frenzied, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense published a video on Wednesday of Putin watching the launch through a computer screen and then congratulating Russian military officials on their success.
“This is a big, significant event in the development of promising weapons systems for the Russian army,” Putin said of the Sarmat missile, which has also been called the Satan II missile.
According to the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Sarmat missile has an estimated range of between 6,200 and 11,100 miles. The nuclear-capable missile is believed to be able to carry multiple warheads, including up to 10 large nuclear warheads, or 16 smaller ones, or a combination of warheads and countermeasures, or hypersonic boost-glide vehicles. In 2016, the Russian military news station TV Zvezda reported the Sarmat missile could carry enough warheads to destroy an area the size of Texas or France.
“The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is able to overcome all modern means of anti-missile defense,” Putin said. “It has no analogs in the world and will not a long time. “This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our Armed Forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security from external threats, and make those who, in the heat of frenzied, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think.”
Russia has repeatedly criticized the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies for providing weapons to Ukraine and punishing Russia with dozens of new sanctions. Russia has also threatened to place nuclear weapons near Sweden and Finland if they decide to join NATO.
On Wednesday, the Russian state-run TASS news agency reported the missile test was carried out at the Kura training ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula, a mountainous area in eastern Russia located across the Bering Sea from Alaska.
“‘Sarmat’ is the most powerful missile with the longest range of destruction of targets in the world, which will significantly increase the combat power of our country’s strategic nuclear forces,” TASS wrote.
Russia’s Defense Ministry told TASS that Russian missile forces known as the 62nd Red Banner Rocket Division “Uzhur missile formation” in Russia’s southern Krasnoyarsk Territory are already preparing to receive the new Sarmat missiles. The Russian military said the Sarmat will begin replacing the unit’s existing R-36 Voevoda missiles, also known as the Satan I.