In a further act of increasing tensions between Russia and the West, the Russians tested a multi-warhead nuke 500 miles north of Moscow. The intercontinental ballistic missile only serves to raise the United States’ wariness about Russia’s true intentions. The nuclear test comes hours after a Russian fighter jet taunted a US Destroyer that was cruising through the Black Sea, President Obama and Putin had a phone conversation hours later discussing the rising tensions between the United States, Europe and Russia. The nuclear test is being condemned for violating the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which prohibits increasing the already declared amount of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia have.
Russia’s military carried out a flight test of a new multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday amid growing tensions with the United States over the crisis in Ukraine.
The SS-27 Mod 2 road-mobile ICBM was launched around 2:40 a.m. EST from Russia’s Plesetsk launch facility, located about 500 miles north of Moscow.
“The main purpose of the launch is to validate the reliability of a batch of this class of missiles made at the Votkinsk Plant,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told state-run Interfax-AVN.
An unspecified number of simulated nuclear warheads landed at an impact range on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East, Yegorov said. The distance is around 3,500 miles.
The SS-27 Mod 2 is Russia’s newest ICBM and has been touted by Russian officials as designed specifically to defeat U.S. missile defenses.
Mark B. Schneider, a missile specialist with National Institute for Public Policy, said there is evidence indicating the Russians have violated the START arms treaty by developing the SS-27 Mod 2 with multiple warheads.
“The original missile that Russia called the Topol M Variant 2 and we call the SS-27 was a single warhead missile,” Schneider told the Free Beacon. “START prohibits increasing the declared number of warheads.”
The missile test launch followed an incident Saturday when a Russian Su-24 jet conducted a dozen low-altitude passes over a U.S. warship in the Black Sea. The Pentagon called the maneuver “provocative.”
“The aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from USS Donald Cook, and the event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes,” Army Col. Steven Warren said.
“The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s,” the colonel said.
Warren said the aircraft appeared to be authorized to make the low passes. “We’ve seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine for several months, and these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which we called on the Russians to do,” he said.
The warship has been in the Black Sea in a show-of-strength deployment. It is currently making a port visit to Constanta, Romania.
The Russian ICBM, which Moscow calls the RS-24 Yars missile, will replace older Topol mobile ICBMs.
The United States currently has no comparable road-mobile ICBM. The mobility makes the missiles very difficult to detect and target.
The last flight test of the SS-27 Mod 2 was in December.
Russia currently has an estimated 80,000 troops deployed along with armored vehicles close to Ukraine’s eastern border.
A senior Obama administration official said last week that pro-Russian unrest, including the takeover of police stations in two eastern Ukrainian towns, appears to be the work of Russian agents seeking to foment unrest—something that could be used a pretext for a Russian military invasion.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has asked the United States to explain the recent visit to Kiev by CIA Director John Brennan.
“We want to understand what our western colleagues are doing in reality, particularly we want to understand what do the reports about an urgent visit of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA, Mr. Brennan, to Kiev means,” Lavrov said, according to state-owned Moscow Rossiya 24 TV. “No clear explanations have yet been given to us.”