War in Ukraine: What is Belgorod, the Russian submarine capable of triggering a “radioactive tsunami”?

Russia has a new nuclear powered submarine and it’s gigantic. The launch is worrying given the ongoing war in Ukraine. Chances of calendaring or intimidation from Moscow, the question is on hold.

The conflict in Ukraine has not subsided for five months, and Kiev is resisting the Russian invasion as best it can. In early July, Vladimir Putin launched an unprecedented nuclear submarine, named “Belgorod”. The building can launch “megatorpillos” at targets hundreds of kilometers away. Its name comes from a Russian town located 35 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Great size and power

Belgorod was handed over to the Russian Navy on July 8, 2022. It was launched by Chevmash Shipyard, Russia’s largest shipbuilder, at the port of Severodvinsk, US TV channel CNN reported. The uniqueness of Belgorod is first of all its extraordinary size. It is the longest submarine ever built in the world with a length of 184 meters. That’s “more than the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic and guided missile submarines, which can reach 171 meters,” details CNN.

It’s not just his size that impresses and worries officials around the world, but also his shooting skills. According to the Russian agency TASS, the Belgorod can carry “Poseidon nuclear-capable torpedoes under development”. These are high-energy torpedoes capable of being launched hundreds of kilometers from their targets.

As of November 2020, the US was already closely monitoring the production of this submarine. At that time, Christopher A. Ford was Washington’s Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. He had warned that the Poseidon torpedo would ‘inundate American coastal cities with a tsunami of radiation’.

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In addition to these large torpedoes, submarines can also use small drones to spy on their enemies, especially in the context of reconnaissance or sabotage operations.

A deterrent weapon?

The Russian company offers the submarine as a research vessel. It was to be used to conduct “scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas”. Many other countries consider it a site for espionage.

This new Russian nuclear weapon will act as a deterrent according to US intelligence. In March, expert HI Sutton wrote on his site Hidden Beaches “Poseidon is a new type of weapon. It will change the naval program in Russia and in the West, bringing new requirements and new counter-weapons.”

“Big Investment”

HI Sutton explains that the Belgorod-mounted Poseidon missile “is designed to be carried by a submarine in a watertight tube. These submarines are incredibly expensive and represent a massive investment for the Russian Navy. It says it is not designed to launch forward like a mine, waiting to detonate in an enemy port.”

A US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report published by CNN last April explains that “Belgorod will be capable of carrying up to eight Poseidons.” A very impressive power show from Moscow.

According to the American television channel, the development of such a weapon could be the starting point of a new “underwater cold war”.

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