Russia Test Fires Advanced Ballistic Missile

Amid Ukraine tension, Russia carries out a successful test-launch of an RS-12M Topol ballistic missile.

Elad Benari,

Russian Topol RS-12M missile.
Russian Topol RS-12M missile.

Russia on Tuesday carried out a successful test-launch of an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, AFP reported, citing state news agencies.

"The purpose of the launch is to test the advanced payload of the intercontinental ballistic missile," Russia's three main news agencies quoted a top defense official as saying.

The same defense official said the launch involved the RS-12M Topol, - a road-mobile missile last reportedly tested by Russia on December 28.

The missile was launched from Russia's Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan, reported the BBC.

The missile was first put into service in the 1980s and then repeatedly modified. It is referred to as the SS-25 Sickle by NATO and has a reported maximum range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles).

The missile successfully hit its target, AFP quoted the official as having said.

Russia has been testing warheads that could evade a missile defense shield the United States is deploying together with NATO in Europe over Russia's strong objections.

The Russian defense official said the test was designed to check the warhead's ability to "penetrate missile defense systems".

The test was conducted amid a fierce standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, whose Crimean peninsula has been taken under de facto control by Kremlin-backed troops since the February 22 ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

A U.S. official told AFP that Russia had notified Washington of Tuesday’s missile test in advance.

"We have been notified of this test earlier this week. It's not unexpected," the defense official told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that Russian soldiers have not occupied government buildings and surrounded Ukrainian military bases on the Crimean Peninsula.

Instead, he told reporters that the heavily armed men are "local self-defense forces."

Putin’s remarks came hours after he ordered troops training near the Ukrainian border to return to their permanent bases.

On Monday, Washington announced it had suspended all military engagements with Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine, including military exercises and port visits.

The announcement from the Pentagon came hours after President Barack Obama warned that the U.S. would look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow.