Russia on Saturday test-fired an inter-continental missile with new equipment officials say is able to pierce anti-missile shields, state news agency RIA reported, underscoring Moscow's determination to assert its military might.
The RS-12M Topol ballistic missile, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, was successfully launched at 5:43 p.m. from Kapustin Yar firing range in southern Russia, RIA said, citing a spokesman for rocket forces.
"The launch was carried out with the aim of confirming the stability of the fundamental flying and technical characteristics of this class of missile," Rocket Forces spokesman Alexander Vovk told RIA.
He said the test was part of a trial of unspecified new equipment that could pierce anti-missile shields. Russian generals have said the country is working on weapons that would pierce any shield the United States could make.
Saturday's launch of the revamped missile comes amid U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said would threaten Russian interests.
Putin signed a law last week suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty in a step which could allow it to deploy more forces close to western Europe.
As configured in 1985, the Topol has a maximum range of 6,215 miles and can carry one 550-kiloton nuclear warhead. The 67-feet-long missile was designed in the 1970s and made its first flights in 1982.
The last launch of a Topol missile took place on Oct. 18.
Buoyed by huge oil revenues, Russia under Putin has been boosting military spending while at the same time using diplomacy to broaden Moscow's influence.
This week, Russia said it would start the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times. Eleven ships, including an aircraft carrier, will take part in the sortie and be backed up by 47 aircraft — including strategic bombers.