It’s just on the drawing board. The news is that further development has been approved. This is part of Russia’s current budget-making. Also, Russia released a photo and very broad specifications. Supposedly the Sarmat will be able to carry sixteen warheads. That’s apparently enough to destroy Texas, hence the heavy breathing.
But it’s ten years or more in the future. Both technical and budgetary stuff goes wrong during development, so the final missile may or may not have the capabilities advertised. And it’s a missile we’re talking about, not new nuclear weapons. Cool name, though.
Why, besides the general Kremlin desire to boast about its nuclear capabilities, would this have appeared today? I have a thought.
For some time, the United States has claimed that Russia is violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Much more here.) They have not given specifics, and Russia has denied violating the treaty. The INF Treaty regulates smaller, medium-range missiles. Last week, the United States asked for a meeting of the Special Verification Commission, provided for by the treaty.
Russia tells us they have gracefully agreed to the meeting, because they have concerns too.
This isn’t getting a lot of play in the media. But it looks like Russia is saying “You want to complain about a medium-range missile? Have a big one!”
h/t to Alicia Dressman for the WSJ and CRS articles.
Top graphic: Release about the Sarmat.