Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that the Kremlin would deploy its newest intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching Britain in three minutes, by the end of the year.
The Kremlin announced the first test launch of its new, nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system in April, which experts also warned could target the UK as well as Europe and the US.
The Sarmat is capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and of striking targets thousands of miles away in the United States or Europe.
The Russian president hosted military academy graduates at a ceremony at the Kremlin. He said the country would continue to boost its military capabilities amid its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“We will continue to develop and strengthen our armed forces, taking into account potential military threats and risks,” he said, hailing Russian troops in Ukraine for fighting “with courage, professionalism: like real heroes”.
“There is no doubt we will be even stronger,” he added.
Mr Putin said, as part of military boosts, Russia would place the first batch of Sarmat on combat duty before the end of the year.
Russia’s defence committee deputy chairman, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, last month threatened to use its RS-28 Sarmat hypersonic nuclear missile – known in the west as “Satan-2” – to strike Britain in just “200 seconds”.
The warning came after Finland indicated its intention to join Nato. “If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate – to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” Mr Zhuravlyov claimed in an interview with state TV Russia 1.
“If the United States threatens our state, it’s good: here is the Sarmat for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.”
“We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK. And if we strike from Kaliningrad… the hypersonic’s reaching time is 200 seconds – so go ahead, guys.”
Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, the commander of Russia’s strategic missile forces, also told Russian state TV last month that the Sarmat missiles can fly different trajectories, evading enemy missile defence.
“There is no existing air defence for the Sarmat missile systems, and it will probably not exist in the coming decades,” he said.
Meanwhile Dmitry Kiselyov, a state television executive said on an episode of his weekly show that the Britain is “so small that one Sarmat missile will be enough to sink it once and for all”.
The announcement from Vladimir Putin comes as western officials said this week that Russian troops are running out of ammunition and the small advances it is making in Ukraine will soon become “unsustainable.”
“[Putin] planned for a very short war, a campaign of 30 days,” officials said. “They have always been on the back foot with supply of munitions to the frontline.”