Russia Televises New Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Missile Being Loaded Into Silo

Russia’s Defense Ministry broadcast the loading of a new kind of nuclear-capable missile into a silo on TV this Thursday. It was the Avangard, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide reentry vehicle designed to deliver a nuclear payload while avoiding missile defense systems.

The Avangard is a much-hyped missile system. Its hypersonic glide reentry vehicle is supposed to combine the speed of an ICBM with the maneuverability of a cruise missile. The idea is that Russia could launch a nuclear weapon that would avoid America’s missile defense systems. Putin first revealed the Avangard during a speech in 2018 where he teased that Russia was working on several new nuclear weapons.

Footage of Russia’s rocket forces loading the missile into a silo was broadcast on Zvezda TV, a state-owned channel that’s run by the military. Photos of the missile’s loading were also published on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website.

The footage of the military loading a fancy new missile into a silo comes two weeks after Putin signed legislation that withdrew Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty would ban nuclear weapons testing. It was adopted by the U.N. in 1996 but never entered force because countries like the U.S., Israel, and India never signed it.

Politicians and pundits across the world decried Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty. “Russia’s action will only serve to set back confidence in the international arms control regime,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said after Russia withdrew from the treaty. Russia, however, has said it’s merely taking steps to reach a parity with the U.S. Moscow also said it would not resume nuclear testing as long as the U.S. held off as well. 

Russia withdrawing from the CTBT and showing off new nuclear-capable missiles on state TV isn’t great, but it hasn’t been the only country rattling the nuclear saber in recent years. Its actions haven’t occurred in a vacuum. During the Trump administration, the U.S. withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, killed the Iran nuclear deal, and talked about resuming nuclear testing. Earlier this year, Russia pulled out of the New START treaty after years of dithering about its extension from the United States.


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