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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 14:32 GMT
Second Russian missile misfires
President Putin on the Arkhangelsk submarine
Mr Putin has taken a personal interest in the manoeuvres
A Russian ballistic missile has failed to fire for the second time in as many days during military exercises attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the latest incident the missile, fired from submarine Karelia, was blown up by its automatic safety system, after veering from its flight path.

Two test launches were scrapped on Tuesday because of "malfunctions".

Correspondents say the incident is embarrassing for Mr Putin, ahead of next month's presidential election.

The military manoeuvres are said to be the biggest to take place in the post-Soviet period.

Mr Putin has described the exercises as a test of Russia's nuclear shield.

Self-destruct

Karelia fired one of its 16 RSM-54 intercontinental ballistic missiles from a submerged position at around 0930 (GMT) on Wednesday in Russia's far north.

The missile self-destructed about 90 seconds later, after it veered off course.

No-one was injured but the incident will be a blow to the military's pride, say analysts.

On Tuesday, reports suggested that two missiles failed to launch from a submarine during a military exercise in the Barents Sea.

President Vladimir Putin was on another submarine watching the manoeuvres.

Russian news agencies quoted a Northern Fleet official as saying the launch had failed apparently because of a satellite error.

But the picture was clouded when Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said Tuesday's launches were supposed to be only "virtual" ones.

The BBC's Russian Affairs Analyst, Stephen Dalziel, said this does not seem to tie in with the announcement, at the start of exercises last week, that the high point would be the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula, 5,000 kms away.

Without actual launches, our correspondent asks, how can the exercises successfully check the effectiveness of the country's nuclear shield.




SEE ALSO:
Russia bares its military teeth
02 Oct 03  |  Europe


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