In an attempt to intimidate the West as the Russian offensive in Donbas continues, the Russian military announced that it successfully test-fired its new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat ICBM or the Satan II.
According to Russian state news agency TASS, the first test of the Sarmat was carried out last Wednesday at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region on April 20, 15:12 Moscow time. The Sarmat, a three-stage, liquid-fueled missile, is expected to replace Russia’s SS-18 Satan ICBM.
The Russian defense ministry said that the Sarmat launch tasks were fully completed and that the design characteristics of all the flight stages of the ICBM were also completed and confirmed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Russian military and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu upon seeing the success of the launch.
“I congratulate you on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. This is a big, significant event in the development of promising weapons systems of the Russian army,” Putin said, who boasted about how modern the missile was and that it was able to overcome all air defense systems. He also said that the missile is a reminder for other countries that will try to threaten their country.
“It has no analogues in the world and will not be for a long time. This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our Armed Forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security from external threats and make those who, in the heat of rabid, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think,” Putin threatened.
Referencing the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, Putin said that the Sarmat, also known as the “Son of Satan” ICBM, was made using Russian domestic components, which means that it will not be relying on other countries for the production of the missile. Putin also previously claimed that the missile was “invincible” and could not be stopped by modern air defense systems. (SOFREP would point out that virtually all Russian weapons are touted by the Kremlin as “invincible,” “unstoppable” or “unmatched.’)
This comes after two of Russia’s defense companies have stopped production due to a low supply of parts and foreign components. Last March 24, SOFREP reported that Russia’s primary tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod had halted production due to the economic sanctions levied on Russia. This is a major problem for Russia as it needs to service and maintain some 13,000 tanks and 20,000 armored fighting vehicles. Perhaps more concerning for the Russians, they lost significant numbers of their tanks during the initial invasion due to the Ukrainians’ effective usage of Javelins and NLAW anti-tank missiles.
Another defense company that had stopped production was the Russian shipbuilder Vostochnaya Verf. The news of them being unable to build and service ships came after Russia’s flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, was allegedly sunk by the Ukrainians.
According to the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR), Vostochnaya Verf could not procure foreign-made components for their ships, leaving them unable to complete a government order of two tankers and two missile boats worth 35 billion rubles. The majority of their workers were dismissed, and the contracts it still had pending were canceled.
It is known that the Russian military-industrial complex remains dependent on foreign technologies. This is why Putin had emphasized that their new Sarmat ICBM was made using domestic components so that it would not encounter these supply chain interruptions.
The Russian defense ministry claimed that the Sarmat ICBM was the “most powerful missile” with the world’s longest-range to target. The Sarmat is expected to replace the older R-36M (SS-18 Satan) and would potentially constitute 100% of Russia’s fixed land-based nuclear arsenal.
According to reports, the Sarmat ICBM will be able to carry up to 10 tons of payload using ten heavy MIRV warheads or 15 light MIRV warheads. It may also utilize Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles. It has a reported range of 11,185 miles, a speed of 16,000 mph, and a launch weight of 208.1 metric tons. Munitions experts say that the Sarmat, if fully armed, could destroy an area the size of France.
One disadvantage the missile has is that it uses liquid fuel rather than solid. This means that the missiles have to be fueled and refueled at periodic intervals which if not done secretly would tip off the West that the missiles were being readied for launch.
In response to the news of the Sarmat being tested, the US claimed that the testing of the new ICBM was just “routine” and that there was no global threat coming directly from the Russian ICBM test.
An expert from the Royal United Services Institute defense think-tank Jack Watling also said that the test was just mere posturing by Putin as the Russian Victory Day Parade on May 9th is upcoming. This is also the date where SOFREP and other military analysts alike have said that the parade would maybe be the targeted end date of the invasion of Ukraine.
Furthermore, US intelligence previously determined that the Russians had a missile fail rate of 60%, which shows the quality of workmanship and development the Russians have. As the Russians tend to be evolutionary in the production of their weapons rather than revolutionary, some question exists as to whether this is a new missile at all, rather than a reworked tweaking of off-the-shelve components of other systems.
“There is every reason to believe that this neglect extends itself to Russian nuclear forces as well, which we think would give them pause to use a nuclear missile in the region, let alone light the whole world on fire with them,” SOFREP Editor-in-chief Sean Spoonts said.
Unless Putin intends to turn Ukraine into a nuclear wasteland and murder its civilian population of 45 million souls, this weapon will not factor into the Ukraine war. Kremlin hype over it is most likely aimed at his population. Russia has been casting its invasion of Ukraine as being at war with NATO and the US and stoking the paranoia of Russian civilians about being nuked by the US is a way to bolster support for a war that thus far has gone very badly for Russia.