Russia Tests New Space Missile That Country Says Can Fly Four Times Faster Than a Bullet

Russia tested a new anti-ballistic missile that can fly four times faster than a bullet from an AK-47 rifle.

The launch happened at the Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan Monday.

"After a series of tests, the new ABM system has proved its characteristics and successfully completed the task, engaging the target with a given accuracy," said Colonel Sergei Grabchuk, the commander of the Russia anti-missile defense system formation.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said the missile is in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces and was designed to protect Moscow from air and space attacks.

According to American Military News, Grabchuk told the Russian state-run Ruptly that the new missile can travel at speeds in excess of three kilometers per second (about 1.9 miles per second)—a speed more than four times faster than the 700 meters per second (0.43 miles per second) velocity of a bullet fired from an AK-47.

In a hearing before the Armed Services Committee last week, U.S. Space Command commander General James Dickinson detailed Russia's recent weapons testing, including a space-based anti-satellite test in December 2020.

"They clearly have no intention of halting their own ground-based and on-orbit counter space weapons systems," Dickinson said.

The missile launch comes amid rising tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the West. Last week, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu withdrew troops from the Ukraine border after a massive military buildup that raised concern from NATO and the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently expressed his support of Ukraine and accused Russia of taking "very provocative" actions.

"The U.S. stands firmly behind the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Blinken told Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the start of their meeting in early April.

Shoigu said the pullback of troops near Ukraine had nothing to do with Western pressure and warned against further interference.

"Some even warned us that our activities on our own territory will have consequences," Shoigu said. "I would like to emphasize that we don't see such warnings as acceptable and will do everything that is necessary to ensure the security of our borders."

He said the deployment of NATO troops near Russia was a cause of concern for Moscow.

"The U.S. and NATO activities to increase combat readiness and build up their presence have contributed to an increase in military threats," Shoigu said, noting that Moscow was closely monitoring the deployment of U.S. troops and weapons in Europe as part of NATO's Defender Europe 2021 drills.

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have also mounted this month after Biden announced sanctions against the Kremlin as punishment for alleged interference in U.S. elections, the hacking of government agencies and the "ongoing occupations and repression" in Crimea. Moscow denied these accusations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian state television that the current relationship with the United States is worse than during the Cold War because of a lack of mutual respect.

"During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect," Lavrov said. "It seems to me there is a deficit of it now."

Newsweek reached out the to Pentagon and the Department of State for comment.

Russia Space Missile Launch
Russian Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles is pictured during the 6th International Military Technical Forum 'Army 2020' in the military Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 23, 2020. Russia tested a new space missile it says can fly faster than a bullet from a AK47 riffle. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images