Amid Crimea standoff, Russia test-fires ‘advanced’ missile

Intercontinental rocket reportedly has warhead that can evade defense shields deployed across Europe by NATO and US

Illustrative photo of a missile (photo credit: Ministry of Defense/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a missile (photo credit: Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

MOSCOW – Russia on Tuesday carried out a successful test-launch of an “advanced” intercontinental ballistic missile, state news agencies reported amid a fierce standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

“The purpose of the launch is to test the advanced payload of the intercontinental ballistic missile,” Russia’s three main news agencies quoted a top defense official as saying.

The defense official said the launch involved the RS-12M Topol — a road-mobile missile last reportedly tested by Russia on December 28.

The missile was first put into service in the 1980s and then repeatedly modified. It is referred to as the SS-25 Sickle by NATO and has a reported maximum range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles).

The defense official provided no details of the missile’s advanced features, saying only that it was launched from Russia’s Kapustin Yar rocket launch site near the southern city of Volgograd.

The missile successfully hit its target in the Sary Shagan ballistic missile test range that Russia leases in Kazakhstan.

Russia has been testing warheads that could evade a missile defense shield the United States is deploying together with NATO in Europe over Russia’s strong objections.

The Russian defense official said the test was designed to check the warhead’s ability to “penetrate missile defense systems”.

The test was conducted amid a fierce standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, whose Crimean peninsula has been taken under de facto control by Kremlin-backed troops since the February 22 ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

A US official said that Russia had notified Washington of the missile test in advance.

“We have been notified of this test earlier this week. It’s not unexpected,” the US defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

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