“The Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defense means of the potential adversary,” Putin said to the media after the successful test according to Al Jazeera. According to multiple reports, in March Putin stated the new weapons system has an intercontinental range and can fly at twenty times the speed of sound. Putin believes this speed surpassed the capabilities of anti-missile defense technology.
Significance Of The Test
The ongoing Mueller investigation centered around Putin and Russian oligarch led interference into the 2016 United States Presidential election, combined with tension over Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe create a perceived sense of an arms race concerning the recent test.
However, the United States and the rest of the international community have long been aware of the Avangard vehicle, meaning the test did not surprise those in the intelligence and military community.
According to the Kremlin the weapon was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the Ural Mountains and hit a practice target on the Kura range in Kamchatka, over 3,700 miles away.
Beyond The Talking Points
From conversations with those familiar with such systems, the true capabilities and range of the United States and other missile defense systems around the world are not public knowledge. It’s unlikely Russian intelligence has complete information about the true abilities of these complete procedures.
While the military-industrial complex commonly uses such events to sell more weapons to the United States and other nations, the rhetoric is commonplace when world leaders wish to convey strength on the world stage.
CNN analyzed North Korean missile tests in December of last year:
The tests also are thought to be timed for maximum political impact — a May launch coincided with the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing, an important project for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and a February launch happened as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting US President Donald Trump. And the ICBM test came on July 4, Independence Day in the US. All of this applies equally to the North’s nuclear test program, which has typically followed a similar pattern.
The Avangard missile test comes after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) accused Russia of breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) earlier in December.