As North Korea vociferously condemns the US and the United Nations after the Security Council passed yet another round of sanctions against the restive regime, Russia is continuing to test ICBMs in preparation for a violent conflict on the neighboring Korean Peninsula while simultaneous calling for both sides to seek mediation.
Last night, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force tested the RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the Kapustin Yar practice range in the southern Astrakhan Region, the TASS News Agency reported Tuesday.
"On December 26, 2017, a combat team of the Strategic Missile Force test-fired an RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Kapustin Yar state central combined arms training range in the Astrakhan Region," Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
"The launch was aimed at testing perspective armament for intercontinental ballistic missiles," the ministry said.
"During the tests, specialists obtained experimental data that will be used in the interests of developing effective means of overcoming anti-ballistic missile defense and equipping the perspective grouping of Russian ballistic missiles with them," the Defense Ministry said.
As we explained last week, the latest round of sanctions aims to curb the North Korean energy trade – something both China and Russia have been reluctant to sign off on in the past. This suggests that two of the North’s erstwhile benefactors are becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility that a deadly, destabilizing conflict could erupt on the peninsula.
The new restrictions are meant to slash North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products, further restrict shipping and impose a 12-month deadline for expatriate North Korean workers to be sent home, according to Bloomberg.
"Under the new sanctions, oil exports will be limited to their current level, which has already begun to result in shortages around the country," the NY Times added. "Countries around the world will be ordered to expel North Korean workers, a key source of hard currency. Nations would also be urged to inspect all North Korean shipping and halt ship-to-ship transfers of fuel, which the North has used to evade sanctions."
In response, the North (once again) swiftly condemned the sanctions as an “act of war”, and threatened to “further consolidate its self-defensive nuclear deterrence."
Circling back to the launch, RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the Kapustin Yar practice range in the southern Astrakhan Region, the Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday.
According to TASS, the Kapustin Yar practice range was chosen because it allows testing perspective armaments capable of overcoming anti-ballistic missile defenses – a tacit reference to the US ABM systems that dot Eastern Europe and South Korea.
After the North’s latest ICBM test, Russia announced on Wednesday that North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch constituted a "provocative act". Though Russia also called on both sides to "stay calm.” Russia has carried out ICBM tests with increasing frequency in recent months, while also deploying troops to its border to act as a bulwark should an armed conflict break out.