Russia test-fires new ballistic missile designed to ‘overcome defence systems’

The Russian Strategic Missile Force fired a Topol from the Kapustin Yar range in the Astrakhan Region near the border with Kazakhstan, Russian state-run media outlet TASS has reported.

In a statement, the Russian Defence Ministry said: “During the tests, specialists obtained experimental data that will be used in the interests of developing effective means of overcoming anti-ballistic missile defence and equipping the perspective grouping of Russian ballistic missiles with them.”

This was not Russia’s first test of a modified Topol in 2017.

In September the Russian Defence Ministry also announced it had fired an RS-12M with an unspecified “advanced combat payload”.

The news has come after it was revealed that a Royal Navy frigate closely tracked a Russian warship through the North Sea on Christmas Day.

The frigate, HMS St Albans, departed on December 23 to shadow the new Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov as it moved through the North Sea.

UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said: “I will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression.

“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests.”

Chris Ansell, the Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, said it was his crew’s duty to keep Britain safe.

He added: “My ship’s company take great pride in Great Britain and the role they play dealing with both the routine and unexpected.

“Missing parts of Christmas and New Year with our families is never easy, but it is absolutely required as part of our duty to keep Britain safe all year round.

“There is a pressing need to protect UK interests close to home, in the air, above and below the waves.”

Britain’s Defence Ministry said another ship, HMS Tyne, was called to escort a Russian intelligence-gathering ship through the North Sea and the English Channel on Christmas Eve.

A helicopter was subsequently dispatched to monitor two other Russian vessels.