Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Wednesday that his military had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a massive nuclear payload.
“This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security in the face of external threats, and will provide food for thought to those who in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric try to threaten our country,” Putin said.
The RS-28 Sarmat, also dubbed “Satan 2” by NATO, is regarded as Russia’s most powerful ICBM: a super-heavy, thermonuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.
Putin stated in 2018, at the time that the missile was unveiled, that it is the “next generation” of weaponry capable of willfully violating “any missile defence” system.
The Sarmat was planned to replace the Soviet-built Voevoda, which was designed in 1962 to carry three warheads. The Sarmat weighs 200 metric tonnes (220 tons) and has a more extensive range, allowing it to fly across the North and South poles and strike targets anywhere in the world.
The Sarmat carries a greater number of more destructive nuclear warheads. However, the Pentagon downplayed the weapon’s capabilities, saying that “the American people should rest assured that we are fully prepared.”
Russia had expected to complete the Sarmat trials in 2021 and deploy it to the army soon after. Still, numerous test launches, considered late-stage trials in weaponry development, were delayed until 2022.
“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,” the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday, announcing a successful test launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region.
In his speech on Wednesday, Putin congratulated the Sarmat engineers for developing an entirely “domestic” product.
Rounds of economic sanctions imposed on Russia over the years, most recently for its invasion of Ukraine, have effectively barred Russia from importing any dual-purpose goods that could aid in advancing its military complex, leaving many key industries, such as aviation, vulnerable to production and maintenance disruptions.