- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2018

Russia tested its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile Friday for the second time, one day after declaring the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats from the nation.

Russia’s defense ministry tweeted video of the launch and said Sarmat will “replace the Soviet-era #Voevoda.”

The Voevoda missile, the world’s heaviest ICBM, is known as “Satan” in the West, The Associated Press reported Friday.

“It’s the second test of Sarmat. The first took place towards the end of last year,” CNBC reported. “The test was carried out at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, [a] spaceport in the west of Russia.”

President Vladimir Putin boasted in his state-of-the-nation speech on March 1 that his missiles can’t be intercepted and it would make NATO’s missile defense “useless,” the AP reported at the time.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told the AP in response in early March: “We need to ensure we have a credible nuclear deterrent, and we are confident that we are prepared to defend this nation no matter what.”

On Friday, AP reported: “President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world. He added that Sarmat also carries a bigger number of nuclear warheads, which are more powerful than the ones on Satan.”

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said 60 U.S. diplomats would be expelled and the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg would be closed in a quid pro quo response to the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and the expulsion of Russian diplomats in the U.S. The Russian consulate in Seattle was also a target for shuttering by the U.S.

The U.S. joined the U.K. and several EU nations in punishing Russia after a former double agent and his daughter were attacked with a nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury in the U.K.

More than 150 Russian diplomats have been expelled so far from two dozen countries, according to the AP.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in a park. He remains in critical condition in the hospital, but his daughter is recovering and in stable condition, the AP reported.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.

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