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Putin: Russia successfully tested a nuclear-powered missile

President Vladimir Putin issued a statement on Thursday saying Russia had conducted a successful test of a strategic missile. The Russian president did not rule out the possibility of testing a weapon with a nuclear explosion for the first time in more than three decades.

Putin said Russia had successfully tested a nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable Burevestnik cruise missile with a potential range of many thousands of kilometres.

At an annual gathering of analysts and journalists, he announced Russia has nearly completed work on the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile system, another key element of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Putin, who has repeatedly reminded the world of Russia’s nuclear power since the start of hostilities in Ukraine in 2022, said no one in their right mind would use nuclear weapons against Russia. If such an attack was detected, he said:

Such a number of our missiles – hundreds, hundreds – would appear in the air that not a single enemy would have a chance of survival”

Moscow has not conducted nuclear explosion tests since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. However, Putin did not rule out the possibility of conducting such tests again. He emphasised that Washington has not ratified the nuclear test ban treaty, while Russia has signed and ratified it. Theoretically, a scenario in which the State Duma cancels ratification of the treaty is quite possible.

Many military experts believe that a resumption of nuclear testing by Russia, the US or both countries would further destabilise the situation at a time when tensions between the two countries are at their peak in the past 60 years.

In February, Russia suspended its participation in the New START treaty, which limits the number of nuclear weapons each side can deploy. However, the Russian president says there is no need to rewrite the doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons, which states that Russia can use them either in response to a nuclear strike against it or in the event of a threat to the existence of a state.

Russian analyst Sergei Karaganov, who favours lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, has perplexed both Russian and Western strategic analysts by saying that it is time for Russia to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in order to “deter, frighten and sober our adversaries”. In a recent article, he wrote that Russia should “shake up” its enemies by threatening nuclear strikes against European countries and US bases in Europe. He posed several questions about the doctrine to Vladimir Putin. The president replied:

I simply don’t see the need for this. There is no situation today in which, say, something would threaten Russian statehood and the existence of the Russian state. No. I think no person of sound mind and clear memory would think of using nuclear weapons against Russia.

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