Russia announced on Wednesday it had successfully launched a new missile that it said could deploy nuclear warheads at hypersonic speeds anywhere in the world and outwit defenses, a move that President Vladimir V. Putin said was aimed at showing Russia’s adversaries that they needed to “think twice” before threatening his country.
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But even if the test was successful, the new missile does not appear ready for use. The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday’s test launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile was its first and that it would enter Russia’s arsenal only “after the completion of the testing program.” There was no immediate comment from American officials about the launch.
Mr. Putin first announced Russia had developed the Sarmat in 2018, but his decision to test it on Wednesday appeared intended to send a blunt message in the middle of the war in Ukraine. Analysts have speculated that Mr. Putin could escalate the threat of using nuclear weapons to try to deter Western countries from supporting Ukraine and to force Ukraine to surrender.
“This truly unique weapon will force all who are trying to threaten our country in the heat of frenzied, aggressive rhetoric to think twice,” Mr. Putin said in brief televised remarks on Wednesday.
The Defense Ministry released footage showing a white missile emerging from an underground silo in a snowy launch site in a ball of fire and then speeding into the sky. The launch took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwest Russia, the ministry said, and hit a target on the Kamchatka Peninsula 3,500 miles to the east.
Mr. Putin was shown overseeing the launch by videoconference at the Kremlin and receiving a report from Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu. Mr. Putin said in his brief remarks that the Sarmat assembled only of Russian-made components, an apparent attempt to show that Russia’s defense industry was undaunted by Western economic sanctions.