Russia successfully tests nuclear missile as Putin tightens control over defence sector

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks after laying a wreath in the capital Ulan Bator on September 3, 2014 at the statue of Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov to mark the 75th anniversary of a Soviet-Mongolian victory against Japanese forces at the battl
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks after laying a wreath in the capital Ulan Bator on September 3, 2014 at the statue of Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov to mark the 75th anniversary of a Soviet-Mongolian victory against Japanese forces at the battle of Khalkhyn Gol, also known as Nomonhan, at the beginning of World War II.  -- PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia carried out a successful test of its new Bulava intercontinental nuclear missile on Wednesday and will perform two more test launches in October and November, the head of its naval forces said, as Russia's President took direct oversight of the country's defence industry.

The armed forces have boosted their military training and test drills since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which Russia considers in its traditional sphere of influence. The 12m-long Bulava, or mace, has undergone numerous tests, some successful, and can deliver an impact of up to 100 times the atomic blast that devastated Hiroshima in 1945. A Bulava missile weighs 36.8 tonnes and can travel 8,000km and hold 6 to 10 nuclear warheads.

Naval Commander-in-Chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov said the test launch had been carried out from the White Sea and that the test missile had hit its target in Russia's far east. "In October and November of this year, the naval fleet will carry out two more launches with two rocket cruisers equipped with ballistic missiles," Interfax quoted Chirkov as saying.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday taking direct charge of a commission that oversees Russia's defence industry as Moscow tries to reduce reliance on Western equipment following sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. He also said Nato was using rhetoric over the conflict in Ukraine to "resuscitate itself" and that Russia had warned repeatedly that it would have to respond to such moves.