The Russian defense ministry on Monday, July 19, announced that its military succeeded in the test launching of a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. 

The department said Zircon was fired from a warship in the White Sea, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov. The new generation missile surged through nearly seven times the speed of sound and hit the precise target more than 350 kilometers (about 217 miles) away on the coast of the Barents Sea, per the DW

“The tactical and technical characteristics of the Tsirkon missile were confirmed during the tests,” the ministry informed. 

Before the test on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has complimented Zircon for being able to travel at nine times the speed of sound and boast a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). The Associated Press revealed that Putin trusted this weapon would be a key player in Russia’s military competitiveness. 

The Russian navy has organized multiple test launches of the new missile in the past, one of which was on Putin’s birthday in October, and officials say the tests will be wrapped up later this year.

Russia intends to equip its submarines and surface ships with the Zircon missile system, which currently is among other hypersonic missile projects that the country is pursuing. 

In a statement responding to the Monday test launch, NATO was especially concerned about Russia’s advancement in its missile system. 

“Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area,” it said, per the Associated Press.

From such uncertainty, the alliance said they would develop their own preparation in correlation to Russia’s weaponry enhancement.

“NATO allies are committed to respond in measured way to Russia’s growing array of conventional and nuclear-capable missiles,” the alliance said. “We will not mirror what Russia does, but we will maintain credible deterrence and defense, to protect our nations.”

Since 2018, Putin has occasionally warned Russia would use their new hypersonic weapons against the United States if they send intermediate-range nuclear weapons to Europe, Al Jazeera said. 

Washington has not sent any such weapons to Europe as Russia claimed. Still, in 2019 Putin said, “Russia will be forced to create and deploy new types of weapons that could be used not only against the territories where a direct threat to us comes from, but also against the territories where decision-making centers directing the use of missile systems threatening us are located.”

“The capability of such weapons, including the time to reach those centers, will be equivalent to the threats against Russia,” the Russian leader said.

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