In a televised announcement from the defense ministry on Thursday, Russia’s rocket forces loaded an intercontinental ballistic missile, armed with the nuclear-capable “Avangard” hypersonic glide vehicle, into a launch silo located in southern Russia. President Vladimir Putin had introduced the Avangard in 2018, positioning it as a response to the U.S.’s development of advanced weaponry and a missile defense system deemed penetrable by this cutting-edge technology.
Upon nearing its target, the Avangard glide vehicle separates from the rocket, enabling agile maneuvers at hypersonic speeds, reaching up to 27 times the speed of sound (approximately 21,000 miles per hour or 34,000 kilometers per hour).
The ‘Zvezda’ television channel, affiliated with the Russian defense ministry, broadcast footage showcasing the transportation of a ballistic missile to the launch silo, its gradual elevation into a vertical position, and subsequent descent into a shaft within the Orenburg region, near Kazakhstan. This marks the latest deployment of an Avangard-equipped missile since its initial installation at the Orenburg facility in 2019.
While both Russia and the United States lament the deterioration of arms-control treaties designed to curb the Cold War arms race and minimize the risk of nuclear conflict, they, along with China, continue to advance their arsenals, including the development of hypersonic weapons.
The geopolitical landscape is increasingly characterized by competition, with the United States viewing China as its principal rival and Russia as a significant nation-state threat. President Joe Biden emphasizes an existential contest between democracies and autocracies as the defining feature of this century. In response, Russia asserts that U.S. dominance is eroding post-Cold War and accuses Washington of perpetuating global chaos while neglecting the interests of other major powers.