Russia tests nuclear-capable missile as Vladimir Putin issues warning to enemies

Russia will take its prize and Mariupol has paid the terrible price, as Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports

Russia’s defence ministry said it has test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which Vladimir Putin warns would provide food for thought for those who try to threaten Moscow.

The Russian leader was told by military officials that the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched from Plesetsk in the country's north-west, and struck targets in the Kamchatka peninsula in the far east.

Russia is said to be expected to deploy the Sarmat with 10 or more warheads on each missile, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

"The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defence," Putin said.

"It has no analogues in the world and won't have for a long time to come." "This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia's security from external threats and provide food for thought for those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country."

The Sarmat is intended to eventually replace the Soviet-built missile code-named Satan by NATO as a major component of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

The missile has been under development for years so its test-launch is not a surprise for the West, with the Pentagon saying it does not consider it a threat to the United States.

Its announcement came after a military commander warned that hundreds of troops and civilians holed up in a Mariupol steelworks might have "a few days, or even hours" left to survive.

Serhiy Volyna makes an impassioned plea from beneath the Azovstal steel plant

Via video message, Major Serhiy Volyna addressed world leaders from the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, which has become Ukrainian forces’ last stronghold in the shattered city.

Mariupol's authorities said more than 1,000 civilians, including children, are sheltering from Russian attacks under the factory.

Despite this, Ukrainian troops said Russia has continued heavy bombing of the building.

"This is our statement to the world. It may be our last statement. We may have only a few days or even hours left," Major Volyna said.

"The enemy's units are 10 times larger than ours. They have supremacy in the air; artillery and units that are dislocated on the ground; equipment and tanks. We appeal to the world leaders to help us."

Russia has surrounded Mariupol and is fighting a bloody battle to seize it.

The country's actions continue to prompt strong diplomatic retaliations, with Canada among the latest to commit to sending heavy artillery to Ukraine in a show of support.

Canada’s government has also hit 14 more Russians with sanctions for their close ties with Putin, including his two adult daughters.

The Ukrainian Azov regiment released footage of women and children who appeared to be sheltering in Azovstal

If President Putin's troops take Mariupol, it would free up soldiers for use elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, deprive Ukraine of a vital port, and complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The Ukrainian General Staff said defeating the last resistance in the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol remains Russia’s top priority. The 11am (GMT) deadline issued by Russia for Ukrainian troops in the city to surrender has passed, after a previous ultimatum was also ignored. The Russian Defence Ministry had said those who surrender would be allowed to live and given medical treatment. 

The second phase of Russia's war on Ukraine will be just as brutal as the first, Correspondent Peter Smith reports

In his video, Major Volyna repeated a plea for world leaders to secure a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians from the plant.

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday that the two sides have agreed on a corridor for the city, but it is not clear whether civilians under the steelworks will be able to use it.

The corridor will be open to women, children and the elderly from Wednesday afternoon local time, Ms Vereshchuk added.

Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boychenko, urged residents to leave the city, but his deputy, Sergii Orlov said he did not trust Russia to provide safe passages out of Mariupol.

Ukraine estimates that 21,000 people have so far been killed in Mariupol.

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