As Russia weighs retaliating against the UK over its decision to expel a cadre of Russian diplomats after determining that senior Russian leaders (perhaps Putin himself) were responsible for a nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy, RT revealed that a nuclear-powered submarine recently completed a clandestine exercise that brought it all the way to the US coast.
The stunning revelation was made during a Russian TV program called Zvedzda (Star), the official TV channel of the Russian Defense Ministry.
"This mission has been accomplished, the submarines showed up in the set location in the ocean and returned to base," the commander of the submarine squadron, Sergey Starshinov, told Zvezda.
The date and location of the covert mission have not been disclosed, but Russia said the submarine "reached the very coastline of the US."
The disclosure follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's revelation during his annual speech to Russian lawmakers that Russia had developed a coterie of new advanced weapons - including a nuclear-tipped missile capable of evading NATO anti-ballistic missile defenses in the Europe.
The sub was a Shchuka-B dirigible, commissioned for the Soviet Navy in 1986. The nuclear-powered sub is capable of launching Kalibr or Granat cruise missiles and staying submerged for up to 100 days, according to open sources.
Back in January, we reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the State Armament Program for 2018 to 2025 - which comes with a budget of 19 trillion rubles ($330 billion).
The research and development stage of the project is scheduled to be completed next year. The goal is to have a cost-effective multi-purpose nuclear submarine, with a construction time of four to four and a half years to produce 15-20 submarines totally. There are few details about the class in open sources, but whatever is already known suggests that Husky subs will be a technological breakthrough.
Information about Russia's submarine fleet is scarce - aside from what the Defense Ministry has willfully decided to disclose: It is understood that several submarines of this class are being operated by the Russian Navy or undergoing modernization. One Shchuka-B submarine was leased to India, where it entered service under the name INS ‘Chakra’.
The Pentagon has already started to raise concerns about Russia's nuclear submarine arsenal.
"The submarines that we're seeing are much more stealthy," Admiral Mark Ferguson, commander of US Naval Forces in Europe at the time, told CNN. The Russians "have more advanced weapons systems, missile systems that can attack land at long ranges," and their operational capabilities were getting better "as they range farther from home waters."
The news about the stealth drill was released, notably, just days before Russia's March 18 election, where Russian President Vladimir Putin is running for his fourth term in the office.