By the end of 2022, the recently tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) will be deployed, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of Moscow’s continued modernization and bolstering of its armed capabilities.
In the midst of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Putin made the remarks on Tuesday during a televised meeting with recent graduates of military academies.
Regarding the Russian-developed ICBMs that are able to carry ten or more nuclear warheads and decoys, Putin told the graduates that “it is envisaged that by the end of the year, the first such complex will be on combat duty.”
At a time of heightened tensions that has once again elevated the possibility of a nuclear clash with the West, Russia’s successful test of the missile in April alarmed some analysts.
According to Putin, the deployment will be a part of a bigger military buildup in Russia. He also said that troops have already started receiving S-500 air defence and missile defence systems, which are “unmatched in the world.”
With the S-500s, which can be quickly deployed and can intercept at long range aircraft, hypersonic missiles, and ICBMs, Russia has been updating its air defence systems.
According to Putin, who lauded Russian forces fighting in Ukraine for operating “with courage, professionalism, like true heroes,” “We will continue to expand and enhance our armed forces, taking into consideration potential military threats and hazards.”
Moscow has described the incursion as a “special military operation” intended to “liberate” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
‘Truly unique weapon’
Although Western officials had earlier stated that they anticipated the Sarmat to be deployed by the end of the year, its introduction would pose a significant security risk.
The missile, which Russia has been developing for years, has an enormous payload and a very long range, presumably enabling it to avoid most radar and missile defence systems.
The Sarmat missile was earlier touted by the Russian president as a “really unique weapon” that will protect his nation from foreign “threats.”
In the midst of hostile language, he claimed, it would force people to “think twice” before “threaten[ing]” Russia.
The missile test’s significance was minimised in April by then-Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said Moscow “properly alerted” Washington in advance as required by the 2011 New START Treaty, which put restrictions on the two nations’ nuclear arsenals.
Kirby told reporters, “Testing is standard and it was not a surprise. The department’s primary concern is still Russia’s illegal and unjustified war against Ukraine, of course.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, has previously stated that Russia would only deploy nuclear weapons if it were faced with extinction.