A senior Russian military commander told President Vladimir Putin on his 68th birthday on Wednesday that the country had tested its Tsirkon missile, a supersonic cruise missile, and that it had successfully hit a target in the Barents Sea.

The Chief of the Army General Staff Valery Gerasimov said during a video call with Putin that the test strike was carried out on Tuesday from the Admiral Gorshkov ship, which was in the White Sea in northern Russia.

Putin, who has pledged to boost Russia’s military presence in the Arctic, spoke positively of hypersonic missiles and a new generation of Russian weapons during a speech in March 2018.

He praised the launch test on Wednesday.

“This is a big event not only in the life of the armed forces, but also for the whole of Russia, for the whole country,” he told Gerasimov.

The Tsirkon missile test comes amid an arms control tension between Russia and the United States. 

The New START agreement, the last major agreement on nuclear weapons between the two countries, is due to expire in February.

Gerasimov said the missile hit a target 450 km away within four and a half minutes of reaching hypersonic velocities of more than Mach 8.

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