Russia Launches Biggest Ballistic Missile Test Since Cold War, Shooting Nuclear-Capable Rockets From Under Water

This week, Russia launched its largest ballistic missile tests since the Cold War, shooting four nuclear-capable missiles from underneath the White Sea, located on the northwest coast of Russia.

The Russian Northern Fleet officially reported that the underwater cruiser Yuri Dolgoruky successfully launched four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, all of which hit their targets on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East. The Bulava missiles can carry multiple nuclear warheads and can reach a range of around 5,700 miles.

The missiles were launched as tensions ratchet up to Russia's east in the run-up to a landmark meeting in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The two men had been slated to meet on June 12, but now leaders from the U.S. and North Korea have cast doubt on whether they will eventually meet and discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Countries like Japan have been preparing contingency plans in case the meeting falls apart. The U.S. Navy sent one of its deadliest warships to Japan this week, a vessel that could help protect Japan from a North Korean attack by shooting down warheads.

Russia is generally wary of Japan purchasing U.S. military equipment, and has repeatedly accused the U.S. of violating international arms treaties by selling missile defense systems to Japan and Russia's other neighbors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia later this week, where he is expected to discuss North Korea and a response to a potential conflict in the region.

Soviet and Russian researchers had been developing the Borei-class submarines since the late 1980s. Subsequently, around 27 Bulava missile launches were carried out between 2005 and 2018, 15 of which were considered successful. Russia has been working to modernize its navy for years, and has poured ample resources into refurbishing its navy since the fall of the Soviet Union. But experts say the country's shipbuilding industry is plagued by corruption and that many ships are poorly maintained.

The Russian navy is also considerably smaller than the U.S. Navy, with around 66 fewer destroyers and just 61 submarines compared to 70 in the U.S.