In the midst of international tension over its barbaric invasion of Ukraine, Russia upped the ante when it announced on Wednesday the test launch of the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
Roscosmos space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin described the powerful new weapon as “a present to NATO.” President Vladimir Putin hailed it as a truly unique weapon that is capable of penetrating anti-missile defenses and providing “food for thought” for those who would threaten the country. He also noted the missile was developed using only domestic parts, meaning that international sanctions will have limited to no effects on its production.
The Defense Ministry reported that the missile was launched Wednesday from a facility in northwestern Russia and hit designated targets at a firing range in the eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. Putin boasted there is nothing comparable to it in the world’s arsenals and will not be for a long time.
The Sarmat has been in development for years, and Rogozin said the country’s nuclear forces will begin receiving deliveries of the new ICBM this fall. Experts say the current backbone of Moscow’s nuclear-capable delivery systems, the SS-18 and SS-19 missiles, are antiquated by comparison.
The Sarmat ICBM, nicknamed the “Son of Satan,” is not only capable of carrying 10 or more warheads and decoys, but it may be fired over either of Earth’s poles.
The timing of the test launch coincides with nearly two months of struggle after the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine that Moscow thought would be a walkover. Victory Day, a major national holiday that celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany, is just weeks away as well.
Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby is downplaying the significance of the new ICBM test. Kirby said Russia abided by the New START obligations and notified the U.S. of its intentions to test the missile. Kirby called it “routine,” “not a surprise,” and said it is not deemed to be a threat to the U.S. or its allies.
Putin already placed Russia’s nuclear arsenal on high alert shortly after the Ukrainian invasion commenced, and now comes the specter of a new ICBM reportedly immune to anti-missile defense systems. Perhaps that is only bluster, but as many a cold warrior noted, Russia was — and remains — a Third World country with First World weapons.