Russia fired a Yars nuclear ballistic missile over Arkhangelsk

The recent military exercise executed by Russia involved the firing of Yars and Sineva ballistic missiles as well as cruise missiles launched from the long-range Tu-95MS aircraft. This activity mirrored similar exercises that took place one year prior, as stated by Russian media outlets

A video has even surfaced on Twitter claiming to have captured the trail left by the Yars thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile rising into orbit. The video was shot in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk.

The execution of the military drill, under the guidance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and President Vladimir Putin, was confirmed by the official Kremlin press service. The exercise consisted of practical launches of both ballistic and cruise missiles, purportedly in response to an “enemy nuclear strike.” 

Russia fired a Yars nuclear ballistic missile over Arkhangelsk
Photo credit: YouTube

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu elaborated that the training encompassed strategizing and executing a hypothetical “massive nuclear strike” using offensive forces. Precise missile launches were carried out from specific locations: the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk test spaceport to the Kura test site in Kamchatka, and the Sineva ballistic missile launched from the nuclear strategic missile submarine Tula in the Barents Sea. 

The Tu-95 also participated

The long-range aviation aircraft Tu-95MS, which released cruise missiles, played a pivotal role in the exercise. The central aims of the operation were to examine the proficiency of military command structures and assess the organizational capabilities of both leadership and operational personnel in managing subordinate troops. It was announced that all planned exercises were duly completed. 

President Putin had overseen a similar exercise of nuclear deterrence forces in October 2022, wherein the Yars and Sineva ballistic missiles, along with cruise missiles launched from the Tu-95MS aircraft, were used. 


The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratification was revoked by the Federation Council, following the State Duma’s sanction on October 25. Earlier in the same month, President Putin highlighted that the agreement was endorsed by both Moscow and Washington, however, it was not ratified by the latter. The decision of Russia regarding this matter has been deemed as a symbolic move by Russian experts who were interviewed; they opined that this would not bring about any significant changes. 

The beginning of the year marked Moscow’s decision to suspend its role in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START] with Washington. This action was justified by President Putin, owing to the Russian side’s incapacity to execute inspections within the treaty’s stipulations. Western countries’ motive to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia was also cited as a reason. Contrarily, US President Joe Biden labeled Russia’s withdrawal from the New START treaty as a misstep.

About RS-24 Yars

The RS-24 Yars also referred to as the RT-24 Yars or the Topol’-MR, is an intercontinental ballistic missile engineered by the Russians. Enhanced with MIRV [Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle] features and thermonuclear capacity, its initial experimental launch occurred on May 29, 2007, after a covert military research and development project. 

Russia Successfully Test-fires Enhanced Version of RS-24 Yars ICBM - At rocket pace
Photo credit: TASS

This missile essentially shares significant similarities with the Topol-M, with the notable alteration being the adaptation of the payload “bus” to carry multiple independently targetable warheads [MIRV]. There is a presumption that each missile holds the capacity to transport up to four warheads, although the exact maximum volume remains uncertain. 

The RS-24 outstrips the contemporary RT-2PM2 Topol-M in terms of weight and has been reported to possibly carry as many as ten independently targetable warheads. The missile’s 2007 publicized trials were perceived as an answer to the missile defense system the United States was seeking to establish in Europe. The RS-24 officially commenced operations in 2010, and by June 2017, more than 50 of these launchers were operational. 

RS-24 Yars deployment

Russia fired a Yars nuclear ballistic missile over Arkhangelsk
Photo credit: Military Leak

In June 2008, Yuri Solomonov, the chief designer for the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, revealed that the RS-24 is a superior, MIRV-equipped variant of the Topol-M missile, with all testing anticipated to be completed within 2008, and the missile’s deployment likely to occur in 2009. The Russian rocket forces confirmed that the primary lot of six RS-24 missiles would be mobile and ready for deployment. 

Later, on October 10, 2009, General Andrei Shvaichenko, the newly appointed SRF commander, affirmed that the RS-24 would be deployed in December 2009 to reinforce the existing RT-2PM2 Topol-M [RS-12М2] missile complex. Trials for the avant-garde ICBM concluded by mid-July 2010, promptly followed by the initial deployment of the missiles on July 19. 

By December 2010, the 54th Guards Rocket Division at Teykovo received its second batch of RS-24 missile systems. By the end of 2010, six missiles had been launched. Three additional mobile missile systems were set up by July 2011, and the first regiment was made operational. In December 2011, the first division of the second regiment comprising three missiles was transitioned to combat mode and the second division was scheduled for deployment by the end of 2011. On August 16, 2012, Strategic Missile Forces [SMF] representative Col. Vadim Koval indicated that a second regiment of the 54th Guards Rocket Division in Teikovo, in Central Russia, would be fully stocked with Yars mobile ballistic missile systems by the end of 2012.

In August 2011, Russia successfully executed the full deployment of its first Yars regiment incorporating three distinct battalions, followed by two battalions of the second regiment commencing combat duty on December 27, 2011. This was then reiterated by the second regiment’s third battalion’s deployment, culminating in the Teikovo division’s complete rearmament with the innovative Yars systems. In aggregate, these two regiments encompass a total of 18 missile systems, supplemented by several mobile command posts. Beginning in 2013, an additional two missile divisions are scheduled to receive the Yars systems. 

Furthermore, the 39th Guards Rocket Division, stationed at Paskino, Novosibirsk Oblast in Siberia, will be supplied with mobile Yars systems, as the 28th Guards Rocket Division, positioned at Kozelsk [central Russia] prepares for armament with the silo-based model of the system. By 2014, three distinct missile regiments under the Russian Strategic Missile Forces underwent rearmament, transitioning to the Yars systems. 

Fast forward to October 18, 2019, the commanding officer of the 35th Rocket Division, Col. Alexander Prokopenkov, announced the forthcoming integration of the new “Yars-S” missile systems into combat duty stationed in Barnaul, starting November. Alarmingly, the technical characteristics of this modernized missile system remain confidential. Before this, the “Yars-S” had commenced combat duty in Yoshkar-Ola. It was estimated that by 2021, three additional regiments of the Strategic Missile Forces would have been modernized with an advanced complex. 

Sergey Karakaev, the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, confirmed in November 2019 that more than 150 launchers of the “Yars” complex are operational, inclusive of both silo and mobile-based structures. In regions such as Yoshkar-Ola, Teykovo, Nizhny Tagil, and Novosibirsk, regiments are completely reequipped with a transport erector launcher [TEL] variant of the Yaris, and it is anticipated that the rearmament process in the Irkutsk missile regiments will reach completion by the end of 2019.

The RVSN procures approximately 20 Yars complexes annually, according to Karakaev. Three missile regiments stationed in Barnaul embarked on combat duty in 2019-2020, reinforced by another regiment in the Tver region in 2022. Significantly, on March 29, 2023, the Yars missile was put to the test across three disparate regions simultaneously.


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