Russia tests nuclear-capable missile that Putin says will give its enemies pause

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Russia said Wednesday it had successfully conducted the first test launch of its new intercontinental ballistic missile as Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would give countries that "threaten" Moscow something to think about.

Appearing on Russian television, Putin boasted that the missile, which has been under development for years, is capable of overcoming Western anti-missile defense systems.

"This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia's security from external threats and provide food for thought for those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country," Putin said, according to Reuters.

Vladimir Putin sits at the end of a conference table in front of a Russian flag, staring at a television.
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the test launch in Moscow on Wednesday. (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)

The Pentagon said Russia had "properly notified" the United States ahead of the launch, adding that it saw the test as routine and not a threat to the U.S. or its allies.

"It was not a surprise," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

In a statement, Russia's Defense Ministry said the Sarmat ballistic missile was fired from Plesetsk in the country's northwest and hit targets on the Kamchatka Peninsula, about 3,700 miles to the east.

"Sarmat is the most powerful missile with the longest range of destruction of targets in the world, which will significantly increase the combat power of our country's strategic nuclear forces," the statement read.

A missile being launched from a snow-covered clearing before a dark horizon under a clouded sky.
The Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile is launched in a test in Russia, in an image from a video released on Wednesday. (Russian Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

The test launch comes during Russia's ongoing invasion in Ukraine, now in its eighth week.

On Monday, Ukrainian officials said Russia had launched its long-feared, full-scale ground offensive to take control of the eastern flank of the sovereign nation.

Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are refusing to give up the strategic port city, but military officials warn that without assistance from the West they may have "only a few days or even hours left."

"The situation in Mariupol is worsening," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday. "I would like to say that everything will be easy and we will have tomorrow ... but I cannot say this."