Russia announces new nuclear-capable strategic weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during his 1 March speech, that Russia has new technologically advanced strategic weapons, including a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He did so two weeks prior to the forthcoming Russian presidential elections.  

The recently tested RS-28 Sarmat ICBM can carry a large number of decoys and nuclear warheads, but its supposedly unlimited range sounds improbable. Russia also develops nuclear-capable hypersonic glider vehicles which, unlike conventional re-entry vehicles, can maneuver, enter the atmosphere at lower altitudes and glide at speeds exceeding Mach 5. The downside is a lower speed in the flight's final phase. A potential interception of such weapons by missile defences would be hindered, but not impossible. These weapons, however, have not reached operational status yet, and it should also be noted that anti-missile technologies are developing at a similar pace. The US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty agreement in 2002 was emphasised by Putin as a main reason for intensifying Russia’s nuclear weapons development. This announcement, probably exaggerated, is sending the US and its allies the message that Russia is capable of challenging the American leadership in military technology, and overcoming the costly US-developed missile defence system, also deployed in Europe.

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