MOSCOW — The Russian Defence Ministry has reported the first launch of its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

The ministry said the missile was launched Wednesday from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia and that its practice warheads hit designated targets at the Kura firing range on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.

The Sarmat is a heavy missile, intended to replace the Soviet-made Voyevoda missile, which was code-named Satan by the West. President Vladimir Putin and his officials said it’s capable of penetrating any prospective missile defense.

Putin called this “a big, significant event” for Russia’s defense industry. He said the Sarmat will ensure Russia’s security from external threats and make those who, in the heat of frantic, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice.”

Russia relies on land-based ICBMs as the core of its nuclear deterrent, and is counting on the Sarmat for decades to come.

The U.S. has its own ICBMs, but postponed and then called off an intercontinental nuclear-capable missile test to avoid escalating tensions with Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February.

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