Less than 24 hours after Thursday's Biden-Putin phone call which the Kremlin described as generally a "good" start toward the cooling of tensions over Ukraine, Russia's military has conducted a large test-firing of no less than ten hypersonic cruise missiles.
It follows a similar but smaller-scale hypersonic test from last week which Putin had hailed as "a big event in the country's life" which marks "a substantial step" in bolstering Russia's defense capabilities.
Further it's significant that this is how Moscow closed out the year, and just days ahead of the much-anticipated Jan.10 talks with US-NATO officials in Geneva: "Russia test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine, Interfax news agency said on Friday citing northern fleet," Reuters details.
The report additionally notes the large test comes amid continued skepticism from the West over whether Russia's hypersonic program is really as advanced as Putin began touting as early as 2018. "Some Western experts have questioned how advanced Russia's new generation of weapons is, while recognising that the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept," Reuters points out.
As has been typical with such tests, it took place in the Arctic far north, coming at a moment of continued threats and counter-threats issued between the West and Moscow over Russia's alleged troop build-up in preparation for an offensive into Eastern Ukraine.
On the Ukraine crisis, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov aid in his latest comments, "If a constructive response does not follow within a reasonable time and the West continues its aggressive line, then Russia will be forced to take all necessary measures to ensure a strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our security."
Muscle-flexing tonight on Russian state TV’s flagship news show. Caption on screen: “Russia’s become stronger.” Anchor says: “The Kremlin has reinforced its peace proposals [to America] with a [test] salvo of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles." pic.twitter.com/Ay4k8Qkzth— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) December 26, 2021
"Our proposals are aimed at creating and legalising a new system of agreements based on the principle of the indivisibility of security and abandonment of attempts to achieve military superiority, which was approved unanimously by the leaders of all Euro-Atlantic states in the 1990s. I would like to emphasise that what we need is legally binding guarantees since our Western colleagues systematically fail to fulfill political obligations, not to mention voiced assurances and promises given to Soviet and Russian leaders", Lavrov said.