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Russian Military Denies Its Brand-New Zircon Hypersonic Missiles To The Test

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(CTN NEWS) – JOHANNESBURG – The Russian military denied on Wednesday that it intended to put its brand-new Zircon hypersonic missiles to the test during naval exercises this week off the coast of South Africa, which would fall on the same day as the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Indian Ocean exercises, which take place at a time when relations between China and the United States are seriously strained and Russia’s relations with the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War, also include participation from the Chinese navy.

Vladimir Putin of Russia hosted China’s top diplomat at the Kremlin as Chinese and Russian warships prepped in South Africa for their joint exercises.

These encounters demonstrated the development of Russia’s connections with China and increased Western concerns that Beijing might be prepared to provide Moscow with more backing for its conflict in Ukraine.

Due to the participation of Admiral Gorshkov, a frigate equipped with hypersonic missiles and used as their primary test platform, the goals of Russia’s naval drills came under investigation.


This handout photo was taken from a video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Russia Claims That Zircon Missiles To Target Lands

The letters Z and V, which are also seen on Russian armaments on the battle lines in Ukraine and which are employed as patriotic emblems in Russia, were inscribed on the ship when it arrived in Cape Town last week.

Russia claims that the Zircon missiles, which can strike targets on land and at sea while traveling at an amazing 7,000 mph (11,265 km/h) — nearly nine times the speed of sound — can get past any missile defense systems.

Russia asserts that its range is more than 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles).

When tensions with the West over Ukraine grew, Putin deployed Admiral Gorshkov on a transoceanic cruise last month as a show of force.

The exercises, however, will concentrate on marine security, particularly the fight against piracy, according to a Russian navy officer stationed in South Africa on Wednesday, and the Zircons would not be fired.

According to Captain Oleg Gladkiy, the exercises will include “mutual maneuvering of the three sides, the assistance of the suffering vessel in a disaster.


Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, center, with Chinese naval officers attend the Armed Forces Day in Richards Bay, South Africa, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.(Themba Hadebe)

The liberation of a captured vessel by the pirates, and artillery fire which, according to our schedule, does not include the firing with the hypersonic missiles.” He communicated via a translator.

According to a South African military announcement made last week, Admiral Gorshkov, a Russian oil tanker for refueling, a Chinese destroyer, frigate, and support vessel, as well as a South African frigate, would all take part in the exercises.

Liubov Abravitova, Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa, criticized the drills’ scheduling, which falls on the same day as the war in Ukraine’s first anniversary on Friday.

Abravitova mentioned that the BRICS group of developing economies—China, Russia, South Africa, and their partners—have previously conducted cooperative naval drills.

But added that “it is a concern for us that they are happening at the time of the anniversary of the horrific Russian invasion.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abravitova stated that the ship that arrived on the shores of South Africa,

“basically brought a piece of the war to this peaceful land through having the letters Z and V, which they are using as a marking on their military equipment while bombing Ukrainian cities.”


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses members of the defense force during the Armed Forces Day in Richards Bay, South Africa, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Last week, Admiral Gorshkov was accompanied by a tiny boat carrying the flag of Ukraine as it protested in Cape Town’s harbor.

In Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, a group of demonstrators gathered in front of the Russian Embassy on Wednesday. Both the presence of the Russian warship and South Africa’s choice to welcome it were condemned.

Don’t Play with Bullies was written on a placard that was held up by one demonstrator.

The West’s primary African ally, South Africa, has faced criticism for staging the naval drills, but it has defended itself by claiming that they were scheduled two years prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The exercises will take place close to the port cities of Durban and Richards Bay in the Indian Ocean. Access to the media was limited.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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