Just days after NATO made the decision at the summit in Chicago to proceed, over Russian objections, with placement of its ABM system in Europe, Russia has staged the first successful test-launch of a new intercontinental missile designed to penetrate the NATO defense system.
"The dummy warhead reached its target area at the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The set goals of the launch were reached," Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces spokesman Vadim Koval told Interfax.
The rocket still has no formal name but is being billed by the military as a "fifth generation" weapon that substantially upgrades the technology used by its Topol-M and Yars systems.
"This is one of the ... measures being developed by Russia's military and political leadership in response to the US deployment of a global anti-missile system," former strategic forces director Viktor Yesin told Interfax.
The Russian missile "uses a new type of fuel that helps reduce the time required to operate the propellants in the active stage of the rocket's trajectory," one military source said. Officials believe this makes it more difficult to detect and easier to maneuver. Interfax said the weapon is also equipped with individual warheads that can change course to avoid being shot down.
Dmitry Medvedev warned the West last year that Russia will have to deploy new rockets on the borders of NATO'S European partners such as Poland should its concerns not be addressed.
The army's top general, Nikolai Makarov, this month also warned the United States that Russia reserved the right to pre-emptively strike NATO targets once it feels NATO's shield poses a significant threat.