Russia has loaded an intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with the nuclear-capable “Avangard” hypersonic glide vehicle into a launch silo in the Orenburg region, southern Russia.
The development was broadcast on the Russian defence ministry’s ‘Zvezda’ television channel. President Vladimir Putin first announced the Avangard system in 2018, positioning it as a counter to U.S. weapons development and missile defence capabilities.
The Avangard glide vehicle is known for detaching from its rocket and manoeuvring at hypersonic speeds, reaching up to 27 times the speed of sound. The capability allows it to evade traditional missile defence systems.
The Zvezda channel showed footage of the ballistic missile’s transportation and installation into the launch silo, highlighting Russia’s advanced military technology.
This move by Russia occurs amidst a broader narrative of deteriorating arms-control treaties between major nuclear powers, including the United States and Russia. Both nations have expressed concerns over the disintegration of agreements aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear war.
Additionally, the United States, Russia, and China are all actively developing new weapons systems, including hypersonic technologies. The arms race is set against geopolitical tensions, with the U.S. identifying China and Russia as major strategic competitors in a global contest between democracies and autocracies.
Russia, on its part, criticizes the post-Cold War U.S. dominance and accuses Washington of causing global instability.