Moscow: Russia has announced that it has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a new nuclear submarine that can carry up to 16 nuclear warheads. The test comes at a time when tensions are high between Russia and the West over the conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has amassed thousands of troops near the border. Russia has also recently withdrawn from a global treaty that bans nuclear testing, raising concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the strategic missile submarine ‘Imperator Alexander-3’, one of the new Borei class nuclear submarines, fired the Bulava missile from underwater in the White Sea, located in the Arctic Ocean. The missile flew across Russia and hit a target in the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the far-eastern region of the country. The statement did not specify the date of the test but said that it was the final trial before the submarine joined the naval fleet.
The Borei class submarines are designed to replace the older Delta class submarines, which have been in service since the Soviet era. The Borei-class submarines are more advanced and stealthy and can operate in deeper waters. They can carry 16 Bulava missiles, each of which can deliver up to 10 nuclear warheads to different targets. The Bulava missile has a range of about 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) and can evade missile defense systems.
The Russian Navy currently has three Borei class submarines in service, and four more under construction. The ‘Imperator Alexander-3’ is expected to join the fleet soon, after completing the missile test. The Borei class submarines are expected to form the backbone of Russia’s naval nuclear deterrent for the next several decades.
The missile test comes amid growing friction between Russia and the West over the situation in Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014. The US and its allies have accused Russia of preparing for a possible invasion of Ukraine, and have warned of severe consequences if that happens. Russia has denied any such plans and has accused the West of provoking the crisis by supporting Ukraine and expanding NATO.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that revoked Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a global pact that bans all nuclear explosions. Russia had ratified the treaty in 2000, but the US and other key countries have not. Russia said that it decided to withdraw from the treaty because of the lack of progress in its implementation, and the need to ensure its national security and strategic stability. The move was criticized by the US and other countries, who said that it undermined the global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and reduce nuclear risks.