Vladimir Putin warns west to ‘think twice’ as Russia tests ‘Satan 2’ intercontinental ballistic missile

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Vladimir Putin warns west to ‘think twice’ as Russia tests ‘Satan 2’ intercontinental ballistic missile
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Russia has successfully tested a new intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile as Vladimir Putin warned the Kremlin’s enemies to “think twice” about threatening his country.

The Russian defence ministry confirmed that its Sarmat missile had been launched on Wednesday from the Plesetsk launch facility in the north of the country.

Addressing the military at the launch, Mr Putin said: “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 aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice.”

He claimed that the missile, dubbed “Satan II” by western analysts, has the “highest tactical and technical characteristics” and is “capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defence”.

“It has no analogues in the world and won’t have for a long time to come,” he added.

The Russian army is expected to deploy ten or more nuclear warheads on each Sarmat missile, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video link in Moscow (via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video link in Moscow (via REUTERS)

Russia’s defence ministry said the Sarmat’s training warheads reached a test range on Kamchatka in the Pacific, a distance of nearly 6,000 km.

It is not the first time Mr Putin has flexed Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a warning to the west over its support for Ukraine. Launching the invasion on February 24, he said that anyone who attempted to stand in Russia’s way would face “consequences that you have never encountered in your history”.

Days later, he ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, raising concerns in the west.

The Sarmat has been in development for years and so its test-launch is not a surprise, but it comes at a moment of heightened geopolitical tensions following the invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the state Roscosmos agency that oversees the missile factory building the Sarmat, described Wednesday’s test as a “present to NATO” in a comment on his messaging app channel.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last month that the prospect of nuclear conflict “is now back within the realm of possibility”, though western leaders have denied that any direct military engagement with Russia will take place over Ukraine.

The Pentagon said that Russia had notified the US of the launch, adding that it saw the test as routine and not a threat.

In other developments, the Ukrainian General Staff said Wednesday that Russia was continuing to mount offensives at various locations in the eastern Donbas region.

Citizens were also urged to leave the besieged southern city of Mariupol as Russian shelling continued. Thousands of civilians are feared dead following weeks of indiscriminate artillery fire by Mr Putin’s forces.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko said 200,000 people had already left the city, which had a pre-war population of more than 400,000.

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