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MOSCOW: Russian forces Saturday announced a latest successful test of their Zircon hypersonic cruise missile as Moscow steps up its Ukraine offensive.

The missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate stationed in the Barents Sea and “successfully hit” a target stationed 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) away in the White Sea in the Arctic, the defence ministry said.

The ministry added the test was undertaken as part of ongoing “testing of new weapons”.

Ukraine says ‘everything’ being done to defend Donbas from Russian onslaught

The first official Zircon test, which President Vladimir Putin described as a “great event,” came in October 2020. Other tests followed, from the same frigate and from a submerged submarine.

The latest test of a hypersonic weapon comes as Russia looks to be making ground in its offensive launched in Ukraine in late February.

The weapon can reach speeds of between five and ten times the speed of sound and has a maximum range of around 1,000 kilometres.

In March, Moscow said it had used for the first time in combat its high-precision Kinzhal, or dagger, hypersonic missile.

Putin has described the missiles as a family of new “invincible” arms in Russia’s arsenal.

The new generation-weaponry, unveiled by Putin in 2018, are more difficult to track and intercept by missile defence systems than conventional weapons, owing to their speed but also as they are launched at lower altitude towards their target.

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