As the fighting in Ukraine continues, the Russian military has released a song discussing the destruction of NATO members at the hands of the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the RS-28 Sarmat. The high-quality video features a full orchestra performing alongside musician and politician Denis Maidanov, and comes amid reports of Russian conscripts being sent into combat with secondhand weapons and little training.
Along with being a popular musician, Denis Maidanov is also a member of President Vladimir Putin‘s United Russia party. The music video for the song, titled “Sarmatushka,” was uploaded to YouTube on December 17, 2022 by ParkPatriot.Media, the propaganda arm of the Ministry of Defense. Its release coincided with Strategic Missile Forces Day, which celebrates Russia’s nuclear arsenal and units.
The four-and-a-half-minute ballad openly discusses the nuclear destruction of NATO member countries, with Maidanov singing such lyrics as, “Its [the RS-28 Sarmat’s] will is stronger than the Ural Mountains / It’ll scatter our enemies to dust in an instant / It’s ready to carry out the sentence / The US’ air defense is no hinderance to it / It’s not scared of sanctions / For the Sarmat there’s only pleasure / To disturb NATO’s dreams.”
The video itself features multiple test launches of the RS-28 Sarmat, as well as a portion of a speech given by Putin in March 2022, during which he says, “We have a legitimate right to respond. Yes, it would be a global catastrophe to humanity. But why do we need such a world in which Russia does not exist?”
The RS-28 Sarmat is a liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile that’s been in service with the Russian military since 2018, following nine years of development. Nicknamed “Satan II,” the silo-based missile made its first test flight in April 2022, with a state contract being signed in August with manufacturer Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. It’s expected the ICBM will officially enter service by the end of 2022.
The RS-28 Sarmat has an operational range of around 11,000 miles and is equipped with an upgraded guidance system, which makes it more accurate than its predecessor, the R-36M “Satan.” It’s designed to carry a payload of up to 10 tons, in the form of 24 Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), 10 heavy or 15 light multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads, or a combination of warheads and countermeasures against anti-ballistic missiles.
It’s alleged the launch sites built to fire the RS-28 Sarmat are equipped with the Mozyr active protection system. This is designed to negate adversarial strikes by firing metal balls or arrows at incoming munitions, at altitudes of up to 3.7 miles.
In a statement, Maidanov shared that the purpose of the song and music video was blackmail, saying:
“I am well aware that at a time when real hostilities are taking place, ideological weapons are also needed, which this clip is. I hope that our adversaries will read this work and think once again about the futility of talking to our country in the language of force. I hope that it will help cool down the hotheads of foreign politicians who forment World War III.”
The high production quality and what can only be assumed was a large budget do lend themselves to queries regarding why such funds can be diverted to the country’s propaganda machine, rather than to ensuring troops on the frontlines receive the necessary weaponry and equipment needed for combat on the frontlines.
A number of media reports have come out to say that conscripts recruited as part of Russia’s partial mobilization were sent to Ukraine with little training and secondhand weapons that were covered in rust and defective. During a press conference in early December 2022, Putin acknowledged the claims and said the issues were slowly being resolved.
Throughout the Russo-Ukrainian War, Putin has heavily relied on state media to spread propaganda regarding the conflict. It appears his efforts, however, may be losing their effectiveness among the Russian population, as thousands of service-age citizens fled the country immediately after the partial mobilization efforts were announced, suggesting word of what’s actually happening on the frontlines is reaching those within Russia.