Russia’s New Nuclear Cruise Missile? Satellite Images Fuel Fears

New satellite images have raised concerns that Russia may be testing a new nuclear-tipped cruise missile. The images show activity at a known launch site in Russia’s Arctic Circle, where the country has previously tested its Burevestnik missile, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that has been dubbed the “Skyfall” missile.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first publicly announced the development of the missile and four other rockets in 2018.

“The Burevestnik is a nuclear-powered, nuclear-tipped subsonic cruise missile designed to have a range of about 23,000 km (14,000 mi),” the NTI report says, calling the weapon a “second-strike, strategic-range weapon of a type that has not been deployed by any other nation.”

Russia issued an aviation notice on August 31 warning of a “temporary danger area” around the northern known missile base. The warning has been extended several times and is now scheduled to last through October 6.

The satellite images show that a number of vehicles and equipment have been moved to the launch site, including a gantry crane and a transporter erector launcher. These are the types of vehicles that would be used to launch a cruise missile.

Experts who have analyzed the satellite images say that the activity at the launch site is consistent with preparations for a test of a nuclear-tipped cruise missile. However, they caution that it is not possible to say for certain whether Russia has actually launched a missile.

Biden acknowledged Russia’s nuclear threat in June, calling it “real.”

“When I was out here about two years ago saying I worried about the Colorado River drying up, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Biden told donors in California. “They looked at me like when I said I worry about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons. It’s real.”

The United States has warned Russia that any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a devastating response. The US and its allies are also working to develop new missile defense systems to counter the threat posed by nuclear-powered cruise missiles.