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Vladimir Putin sparks World War III fears as he launches 6,100mph Zircon missile

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Russia has launched a 6,100mph missile – heightening World War Three fears.

Kremlin officials said the Zircon had been “successfully” fired in a test run from the Admiral Gorshkov warship in the White Sea.

According to Russian TV channel Zvezda, the missile travelled at a speed of around 6,100mph.

It then hit a ground target on the coastline of the Barents Sea more than 220 miles away.

During a test launch in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “Equipping our armed forces – the army and the navy – with the ­latest, truly unparalleled weapon systems will certainly ensure the ­defence capability of our country in the long term.”

The launch comes weeks after Britain’s former Army chief Lord Richard Dannatt warned it was “squeaky bum time” over escalating Cold War-style tensions.

The retired general said Putin was “testing the will of the West”.

The Russian has bragged the Zircon missile is part of a weapons system “without equal” that “can strike anywhere and evade a US ­defence shield”.

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Russia now plans to fit the Zircon missile system to its submarines and ships.

Fears of a looming world war were expressed in June after Russia boasted it had blasted missiles and shots at the Royal Navy’s HMS Defender in the Black Sea.

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The nation's defence ministry alleged HMS Defender refused to listen to radio warnings before the shots were fired in the contested Russia-Ukrainian waters.

However the UK's Ministry of Defence dismissed Russia's claim that warning shots were fired at HMS Defender, insisting it was a routine gunnery exercise and the Royal Navy vessel was “conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law”.

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