Russia Activates Sarmat Nuclear Missile Complex Amid Rising Tensions

In a move that signals a significant escalation in nuclear posturing, Russia has officially placed its Sarmat nuclear missile complex into combat mode.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Russia Activates Sarmat Nuclear Missile Complex Amid Rising Tensions
© Getty Images Sport/Matthew Stockman

In a move that signals a significant escalation in nuclear posturing, Russia has officially placed its Sarmat nuclear missile complex into combat mode. The development was confirmed by Yuri Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, Russia's primary state space agency.

A Background of Escalating Rhetoric

This development follows a marked increase in nuclear rhetoric from Russian officials and television personalities. Their aggressive stance has been heightened as Ukraine has made notable progress on the battlefield in recent times.

In fact, earlier this year, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, had stated that the deployment of these missiles for combat duty was imminent. Describing the missile's capabilities, Putin remarked, "The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defense.

It has no analogues in the world and won't have for a long time to come."

The Controversial RS-28 Sarmat ICBM

Designated as Satan 2 by NATO, the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM was conceptualized and brought to life by JSC Makeyev Design Bureau.

This missile stands as a replacement for the R-36 Voevoda, which NATO had codenamed Satan. The significance of this replacement cannot be understated: the Sarmat missile spans an impressive 35 meters, weighs in at a mammoth 220 tons, and boasts the ability to carry up to 15 light nuclear warheads.

These are deployed as part of a MIRV system (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicles), a detail corroborated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Furthermore, the Satan 2 missile's range is a matter of considerable concern, with estimates placing its reach between 10,000 and 18,000 kilometers.

Interestingly, just in February, unnamed US officials, as reported by various media outlets, alleged that Russia's attempt at an ICBM test launch had been unsuccessful. This test was particularly significant as it coincided with US President Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine.

While Russian alerts regarding this test were conveyed through channels linked with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a US official brushed it off as being routine.

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