Putin ‘tried and failed’ to test ‘doomsday’ Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo in recent weeks

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Russia has tried and failed to test its pioneering ‘doomsday’ torpedo, American intelligence sources believe, in a possible sign that the sanctions against Moscow are beginning to bite.

The fearsome nuclear-powered torpedo, named Poseidon, is launched from the Belgorod – the world’s largest submarine, which only went into service this summer.

Belgorod was unveiled with great fanfare in 2019, and the Poseidon torpedo – first announced in 2015 – seen as the crown jewels of the submarine. 

Russia boasted at the time that Poseidon would be capable of destroying entire cities by triggering a tsunami.

But on Thursday, U.S. sources told CNN they had observed the Belgorod preparing for a test – then leaving the testing area in the Arctic Sea, and returning to port without carrying out the trial.

Putin ‘tried and failed’ to test ‘doomsday’ Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo in recent weeks

Russia’s huge nuclear submarine, allegedly carrying ‘apocalypse’ and ‘doomsday’ weapons, was spotted lurking around the Barents Sea. It is now returning to port

The Belgorod submarine - the world's longest - is pictured at its April 2019 unveiling. The submarine went into service in July this year, and carries six Poseidon torpedoes

The Belgorod submarine – the world’s longest – is pictured at its April 2019 unveiling. The submarine went into service in July this year, and carries six Poseidon torpedoes

The Belgorod is designed to carry Moscow's latest super weapon - nuclear-powered drones named Poseidon, which Russia claims are capable of causing tsunamis

The Belgorod is designed to carry Moscow’s latest super weapon – nuclear-powered drones named Poseidon, which Russia claims are capable of causing tsunamis

Russia released this footage which it claims shows the drone, and the Pentagon has said it believes the weapons are real

Russia released this footage which it claims shows the drone, and the Pentagon has said it believes the weapons are real

The failure to test the weapon was likely due to technical issues, it is believed. 

‘This can be seen as part of the bigger picture and Russia’s recent military practice, sending ill-trained and under-equipped troops to Ukraine,’ a Western diplomat told CNN. 

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‘Russia’s military industry is going through difficult times, and we can also see that Western sanctions on high-tech military goods are having an effect and must continue.’ 

The window for testing the torpedo is rapidly closing, because the Arctic Sea will soon freeze over.

The Belgorod was spotted on the surface of the Barents Sea on September 22 and September 27, near the Kola Peninsula, USNI News reported.

At the time, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that military officials in Europe had warned that the submarine had traveled to the Kara Sea to test its Poseidon torpedoes. 

It is not clear why it has returned home without carrying out its test.

U.S. officials told CNN that they did not expect Russia to carry out any form of nuclear detonation during the testing.

The Belgorod left its base in the White Sea and was seen in the Barents Sea. It is now returning to its base

The Belgorod left its base in the White Sea and was seen in the Barents Sea. It is now returning to its base

Putin is seen on Wednesday during an awards ceremony at the Kremlin. He has boasted about the potency of the new torpedoes

Putin is seen on Wednesday during an awards ceremony at the Kremlin. He has boasted about the potency of the new torpedoes

However, showing off the Poseidon could well have inflamed tensions with the United States. 

In 2018, Vladimir Putin first mentioned the nuclear-powered torpedo, using his state-of-the-nation address to boast about an array of new weapons.

He said the Poseidon would render U.S. missile defense systems useless.

The 30,000-ton Belgorod has six Poseidons, and also serves as the mothership for smaller submersibles the Russians have used for deep-sea operations. 

The torpedoes are likened to drones because they can be controlled remotely to bypass defenses. 

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They also have a theoretically-unlimited range, thanks to its nuclear reactor engine.

The Poseidon torpedoes are built in a similar shape as regular torpedoes but are much larger than the conventional weapons – measuring up to 79ft long – which is why they need to be carried by specially designed submarines.

Reports on its speed have varied, putting it as low as 70mph and as high as 124mph, making it very difficult to stop.

The weapons could also act as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), capable of operating miles below the waves to map the ocean floor using a sonar imaging system known as side-scanning.

However, the UUVs could also be deployed to sabotage undersea power and internet cables during conflict.

The giant sub also has a 180ft mini-submarine docked underneath it. The 25-man craft can be used for research, rescue and special military operations.

In what is regarded as a sinister development, the submarine’s commanders will report directly to Putin rather than to the country’s naval top brass, making Belgorod more like a deep-sea intelligence agency than a conventional submarine.

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