Russia test fires Topol RS -12M

Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, RVSN, test-fired a Topol RS-12M. The missile launched from Kapustin Yar launch site in the southern Russian region of Astrakhan, hit the target successfully in Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan.

Some facts about Topol RS –12M:

  • New version of Topol M Series
  • Single-warhead Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
  • Weighs 45-ton
  • 3-stage missile
  • Range: 10,000 km
  • Carrying capacity of nuclear warhead: 550 kilotons

What could be the possible hidden agenda behind this launch by Russia?

  • Recent NATO declared that it placed an interim missile defense shield in Europe. Now, Russia test-fired RS-12M, a move that came amidst the tensions about the US-developed Missile Shield System.
  • The interim system by NATO will link the allies’ missile defense systems i.e. satellites, ships, radars and interceptors under NATO control from a U.S. base in Ramstein, Germany.
  • The New Generation of Topol-M Family is aimed at countering the US-developed Missile Shield System being deployed in Western Countries.

What went wrong at the dialogue b/w NATO and Russia over the Missile Defence System?

NATO has invited Russia to be a part of the Missile Defence System but negotiations were deadlocked over Russia’s demand for a legally binding treaty undertaking that the Missle Defence Shield would not be used as an impediment to Russia’s own systems. However, US refused to put any such guarantee in writing.

Tensions over the same matter in recent past:

  • In 2011, the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev periled to recede from the START treaty on nuclear weapons reductions and position ballistic missiles in its dominion of Kaliningrad on its border with Europe, if NATO went on with the plans for missile defence.
  • Tensions further rose in December 2011, when Russia’s ambassador to NATO held that Russia would shut transit routes that send life-sustaining supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

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