NEW DELHI: In a major escalation of tensions in Europe, Russia has put on combat duty the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles that President Vladimir Putin once said would make the nation’s enemies “think twice”.

According to Sputnik News, “The RS-28 Sarmat is Russia’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is set to become the backbone of the country’s silo-based strategic deterrent. With its impressive range and destructive power, the Sarmat is considered one of the deadliest nuclear missiles in the world.”

15 nuclear warheads in 1 missile:
The ballistic missile system is capable of carrying up to 15 nuclear warheads and is intended to replace the R-36 ICBMs that are known by the Nato reporting name of ‘Satan’. The Sarmat missiles are known by the Nato reporting name of ‘Satan II’.

With the war in Ukraine dragging on for over 18 months and Russian forces on the backfoot amid a counteroffensive, Putin has repeatedly gone on national television and said that “all options” are on the table when it “comes to safeguarding the Motherland”, in a barely veiled reference to nuclear option.

The silo-based Sarmat missile is one of several advanced weapons whose development Putin announced in 2018, including the Kinzhal and Avangard hypersonic missiles. The Russian defense ministry has said the missile is Moscow’s response to the US Prompt Global Strike system.

After Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Putin had claimed Sarmat would “reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice”.

All you need to know about Satan II:
★The Sarmat reportedly has a short initial launch phase, allowing little time for surveillance systems to track it.
★The missile can reach speeds in excess of 12,000 mph, which means it could potentially reach the farthest spots in Europe within 3 minutes.
★The Sarmat ICBM measures approximately 116 feet in length, weighs 220 tonnes, and can carry up to 15 light nuclear warheads at once, arranged as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicles, meaning a single rocket can hit an array of targets at once.
★The missile was developed as a successor to the original “Satan” ICBM, otherwise known as the R-36 or Voevada, which dates from the Soviet era.
★The Satan II can cover a range of 6,200-11,180 miles, according to US Center for Strategic and International Studies data.
★The RS-28 Sarmat made its first test flight in April 2022.
★The missile officially entered combat service in 2023.
★Putin has claimed that the missile is unlike any available to rival superpowers and that all of its components are manufactured domestically, meaning Russia is not dependent on foreign partners in its production.

(With inputs from agencies)

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