Russia’s message to Biden: New ballistic missile can breach defenses

Russia says that it is continuing work on the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. The system is now “nearing completion,” Russian state media says. Russian President Vladimir Putin is paying close attention to the progress of the work.

This matters because the Sarmat is expected to build on the experience of the massive 1970s era R-36M2 Voyevoda ICBM. “The RS-28 Sarmat is a Russian advanced silo-based system with a heavy liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile. It has been in the process of development since the 2000s to replace the R-36M2 Voyevoda ICBM. It weighs about 200 tonnes and has a throw weight of around 10 tonnes. The Sarmat is capable of breaching any existing and future missile defenses,” TASS media says.

This work on a missile with a nuclear global-distance system is supposed to be capable of breaching any “existing and future missile defenses.” Clearly the Sarmat is a message to the US and Europe as well as other countries about Russia’s current capabilities. The massive missile has no real applications except nuclear and strategic weapons.

Russia is also working on other new weapons, such as an unmanned water vehicle called Poseidon. It is also working on an air launched ballistic missile called Kinzhal and a secretive laser weapon called Peresvet. Russia says these are in service but it is unclear how operational they are.

Russia’s messaging on the Sarmat is designed to coincide with a new US administration coming to power in Washington. It wants to present the US with its new technology that it has been deploying and developing while Trump was in office as a kind of fait accompli. The new Sarmat trials will begin soon and Russia hopes to deploy it by 2022. It is part of a plethora of weapons, from drones to warplanes, as well as air defense and “hypersonic” weapons that Russia is talking up.

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