Fact Check: Did Russian Orthodox Priests Bless a Missile Named ‘Satan’?
A viral photo does show such a blessing, but of a different missile.
Russia’s military does have missiles nicknamed “Satan.” The RS-28 Sarmat is Russia’s latest and most powerful ICBM, and it has been nicknamed “Satan 2” by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The missile was introduced in 2016, and Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had tested one last month. The Satan 2 was preceded by the R-36M, nicknamed SS-18 “Satan” by NATO, an ICBM developed by the Soviet Union.
It is also true that Russian Orthodox priests have long had a tradition of blessing weapons of mass destruction and other artifacts of war, though in the past few years officials in the church have considered issuing guidance to cease the blessing of weapons of mass destruction.
But the viral picture does not depict the Satan missile. Nor is it from the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. The picture is at least five years old, and in 2019, the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative defense think tank, shared the picture on its website, identifying the missile as a “Topol-M,” a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile.
While this picture does show Russian Orthodox priests blessing a missile, it is not either model of Satan missile, nor is it from the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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