- A test launch of Russia’s nuclear Sarmat missile appears to have failed, CNN reported Tuesday.
- The Sarmat ICBM is among the more modern weapons in Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
- Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin has repeatedly touted his nuclear arsenal.
For years, Russia has repeatedly boasted that it has nuclear weapons that could destroy entire cities.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to do so again in his annual State of the Nation address, but couldn’t, because a test launch of one of these weapons — the Sarmat missile — had failed, according to CNN.
Putin did, however, threaten to suspend Russian participation in its nuclear arms treaty with the US, raising fears over a new arms race.
The RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which NATO has nicknamed “Satan II”, is among the more modern weapons in Russia’s nuclear arsenal. But how deadly is it?
Measuring around 112 feet long and weighing just over 211 tons, the liquid-fuel ICBM is capable of carrying more than a dozen nuclear warheads, which can destroy entire cities, VICE News reported.
The warheads are known as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicles (MIRVs), which means they can be sent to hit different targets at once.
Due to its size, the missile is launched from the ground and usually arcs through the air before coming back down, VICE reported. As it travels downwards, its multiple warheads break off and hit their targets.
The missile is said to have a range exceeding 6,835 miles, meaning that it can easily reach most places on the planet, CNN reported, citing Russian state media.
It was unveiled in 2016 and underwent its first test in 2017, which was successful. It is supposed to be a replacement for Russia’s Voevoda ICBMs, which were able to carry three warheads at a time and were designed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Though it is still in its testing phase, the last time Russia successfully tested the missile was in April 2022, two months after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a great, significant event in the development of promising weapons systems for the Russian army,” Putin said in a speech at the time, the Russian news agency TASS reported.
“This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our Armed Forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of frantic, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice,” Putin added.
Since then, Putin has touted his nuclear arsenal on numerous occasions, including a speech in September where he insisted he was “not bluffing” about being ready to use them.
Alexei Zhuravlev, a member of Russia’s parliament, in May declared on the state TV channel Russia-1 that the country could launch a nuclear attack on the US over its support of Ukraine.
“I will tell you absolutely competently that to destroy the entire the East Coast of the United States, two Sarmat missiles are needed,” he said, according to The New York Post.
“And the same goes for the West Coast,” Zhuravlev continued. “Four missiles, and there will be nothing left.”
Several experts told CNN in April that Putin’s Sarmat test launches were meant to distract from Russia’s recent military failures in Ukraine.
Former CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall described the tests as “nuclear saber-rattling” and said that the likelihood of any strike on the US was extremely low.