Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that the country had conducted a successful test of an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile. He also cautioned that the country’s parliament may revoke its ratification of a treaty prohibiting nuclear tests.
During a forum of foreign policy experts, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia has completed the development of the 9M730 Burevestnik (NATO reporting name: Skyfall) cruise missile and the Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, and plans to put them into production.
“We conducted the last successful test of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered global-range cruise missile,” he said without elaborating. His statement was the first announcement of a successful test of the Burevestnik, which translates as “Storm Petrel.” It was first mentioned by Putin in 2018.
The Burevestnik is a nuclear-powered cruise missile that can potentially carry either a nuclear or conventional warhead and has the ability to stay in the air for an extended period of time due to its nuclear propulsion.
Putin first mentioned the weapon in his 2018 state-of-the-nation address, claiming that it had an unlimited range and could evade missile defence systems. However, many experts have remained sceptical, citing concerns over handling and environmental risks.
The Burevestnik reportedly suffered an explosion during testing in 2019, resulting in the death of several nuclear engineers and servicemen, and a brief spike in radioactivity. Although Russian officials did not confirm the weapon involved, the U.S. claimed it was the Burevestnik.
Russia has reportedly built testing facilities for the Burevestnik on the Arctic Novaya Zemlya archipelago, where the Soviet Union last tested a nuclear weapon. Putin also warned that Russia’s parliament may revoke its ratification of a treaty banning nuclear tests.