Russia test-fired long-range ballistic missiles Sunday as President Dmitri Medvedev pledged to build up the country’s armed capabilities.
The military fired a Topol intercontinental missile from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northwest Russia at a target thousands of kilometers away in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. Submarines in the Okhotsk Sea near Japan and the Barents Sea launched ballistic missiles that reached northern Russia and Kamchatka, the state broadcaster Vesti-24 reported.
“This shows that our shield is in order,” Medvedev said Sunday at Plesetsk. “We will build up our armed capability, which means we will acquire new weaponry while also launching traditional ballistic missiles.”
The purpose of the Plesetsk test launch was to confirm the viability of the Topol rocket, which has been in service with Russian forces for 20 years, Vesti reported. The Topol, with a range of 10,000 kilometers, or 6,200 miles, is part of Russia’s response to a planned U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, the state broadcaster cited experts as saying.
On Saturday, Russia fired a Sineva ballistic missile from a nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea to a record distance of more than 11,500 kilometers to a target in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.
The statement Sunday was the latest pledge by the Russian head of state to revive the might of the armed forces. Medvedev said Saturday that Russia would resume building aircraft carriers and last month announced that Russia would build more new submarines. The president also said that the country’s nuclear deterrent should be upgraded within 12 years.
Seeking to assert its power after a decade of oil-fueled economic growth, Russia announced that it would increase defense spending 26 percent to a post-Soviet record of 1.28 trillion rubles, or $48 billion, next year.
Russia must achieve “supremacy in the air, in delivering high-precision strikes against land and sea targets and in the rapid deployment of forces,” Medvedev said late last month.
Russia has stepped up protests since the Czech Republic and Poland agreed to host elements of a U.S. missile-defense system. Amid a chill in ties with the West caused by an August war with neighboring Georgia, Russia has warned it would respond militarily by targeting the sites.