MOSCOW – Russian nuclear submarine successfully tested four intercontinental ballistic missiles on Saturday in a demonstration of the readiness of Moscow’s nuclear forces amid tensions with the United States
The Defense Ministry said the Pacific Fleet submarine Vladimir Monomakh launched four Bulava missiles in rapid succession from an underwater position in the Sea of Okhotsk. Their dummy warheads struck their designated targets at the Chiza firing range in the Arkhangelsk region of northwest Russia, more than 5,500 kilometers (over 3,400 miles) away, the ministry said in a statement.
The Vladimir Monomakh is one of the new Borei-class nuclear submarines that each carry 16 Bulava missiles and are intended to serve as the core of the naval component of the country’s nuclear forces for decades to come. Another submarine of the same type carried out a similar launch of four Bulava missiles in 2018 – a costly demonstration of the effectiveness of the country’s nuclear deterrent mimicking the conditions of a major nuclear conflict.
In a report to President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday’s launch ended large-scale exercises by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces that began on Wednesday. As part of these maneuvers, another Russian nuclear submarine also carried out a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Barents Sea, a ground-based ICBM was launched from the Plesetsk facility in the north- Western Russia and Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers fired cruise missiles at test targets in an arctic area.
Russia has extended its military exercises in recent years amid tensions with the West as relations plummeted after the Cold War after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
The series of missile launches come less than two months before new US-Russian START treaty on arms control expires at the beginning of February. Moscow and Washington discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences.
The new START was signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and contemplates extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.
After Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, the new START is the only nuclear weapons control agreement between the two countries still in effect.
Supporters of arms control have warned that its expiration would remove all control of US and Russian nuclear forces, which would deal a blow to global stability.