A propaganda tool, not a threat

The Russian military on Wednesday carried out a test launch of the RS-28 Sarmat, a high-capacity, ultra-long-range intercontinental thermonuclear missile. Vladimir Putin presented it as a warning to his country’s enemies. However, according to our experts, it is above all a message to the Russian public, a week after the sinking of the Moskva.

The Russian military on Wednesday tested its new intercontinental missile, the RS-28 Sarmat. A fifth-generation ultra-strong thermonuclear device capable of striking at very long distances. In a victory speech by Vladimir Putin, and in the context of Russia’s growing isolation against the backdrop of the war against Ukraine, this launch appears as a threat.

However, according to our observers and experts on Thursday, the announcement about this weapon should be read as a propaganda tool intended to please the Russian population. And not as a warning to Russia’s enemies, Ukrainians or Westerners.

Putin shakes fears

On paper – and according to images released by the Russian military in the aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting – a thermonuclear monster is enough to scare the planet. 200 tons at the withers, with an estimated working range of 6000-18000 km, capable of carrying ten nuclear warheads and unleashing an explosion 100 or 200 times larger than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, the RS-28-Sarmat itself asserts as a missile. A missile with unprecedented firepower. The nickname given to her by specialists in this field, “Devil-2”, echoes this.

Worse, according to these analysts, with its range, speed, and charge likely to rally Moscow to Paris in six minutes and destroy France.

To make matters worse for fears that the planet might be harboring at the site of this launch that took place in the midst of the Russo-Ukrainian War and against the backdrop of the global geopolitical crisis, Vladimir Putin puffed his chest out when doing the after-sales service. “It is a unique weapon that will enhance the military capabilities of our armed forces, which will keep Russia safe from external threats and will make those who try to threaten our country with unbridled aggressive rhetoric,” he said on Wednesday.

It remains to be seen who is within sight of the RS-28 Sarmat. At first glance, the context makes us think of the people who suffered nearly two months from Russia’s attack on Vladimir Putin. “It’s not a threat to Ukraine, it’s against Westerners,” but it was restored in our studios by General Jerome Belistrandi, our adviser on defense issues on Thursday.

And in front of our cameras, Emmanuel Dupuy, head of the Institute for the Future and Security in Europe, also called us to turn our eyes elsewhere: “This missile was launched precisely in the direction of the United States, while the Russian president has since mentioned the beginning of the conflict in nuclear rhetoric.”

planned in the program

However, it seems that the first interested parties were not particularly affected by this ballistic shot. The United States, through the voice of the Pentagon and its spokesman John Kirby, asserted that it had been warned in a timely manner and in accordance with the treaties governing nuclear testing. Moreover, it is clear that the Russian military did not change its schedule when it came to carrying out its experiment. I have already planned to conduct five tests of the RS-28 Sarmat during this year 2022. Thus, we were only going to witness the first test of a long series.

General Belistrandi also advises to keep the head calm. “It’s a test shot, so there will be time before it goes into service,” he noted. For him, this is just another step on the ancient and distinguished chronology of Russia’s ICBMs. He pointed out that “the Russians have been developing ICBMs since 1957.”

In response to Moskva shock

More recently – in this case only a week ago – Russia has also suffered a major military shock: the cruiser Moskva, pursued in the Black Sea by the Ukrainians, was sunk. A proud wound – other than the human tragedy it represents – could also explain Wednesday’s shooting.

“There, we give a positive image of the Russian army, which is facing great difficulty in Ukraine. Because it allows us to say to the public: ‘You see, we have high-tech weapons,'” Jerome further appreciated.

The North Korean example

As our editorial writer for international issues, Patrick Seuss, considered it a way to avenge the insult to the Kremlin: “It is not a message to Western society so much as to the Russians: ‘We lost our ship, there a week ago but we still have strong capabilities. And try to restore the logo of the system according to a model known in other latitudes. “It’s the same message that Kim Jong Un sends to his own citizens when North Korea conducts its own tests,” our journalist added.

The RS-28 Sarmat aircraft took off on Wednesday from the Plesetsk region of the Arkhangelsk region in northwestern Russia, before reaching its target, located in Kura, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, more than 6000 km from the launch pad. However, it is not clear whether the missile achieved its true goal: to strike Russian minds.

Robin Werner BFMTV journalist

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