According to 2 unnamed U.S. officials, it is believed that Russia conducted a test launch of an extremely provocative intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) while President Biden was visiting Kyiv Monday.
The sources said that the U.S. believes the test “failed,” but no details of the failed launch were given, other than Putin leaving the test out of his speech Tuesday in Moscow.
According to one official, Russia notified the U.S. of the launch prior to it taking place through deconfliction lines. A second official noted that the test did not pose a risk to the U.S., nor did Washington view the test as something out of the ordinary or as an escalation.
The test reportedly was of the SARMAT missile, which is nuclear-capable and known in the West as the ‘Satan II.’
The reason U.S. officials believe the test was a failure is that, had it been successful, Putin would have most likely touted the country’s nuclear capabilities and the test in his State of the Nation address on Tuesday.
However, Putin made no mention of the launch in his remarks, which lasted almost 2 hours. Although Putin never mentioned the Satan II test, he did announce that Moscow will be unilaterally suspending Russia’s involvement in the New START nuclear treaty, which is meant to limit the development of nuclear capabilities for both the U.S. and Russia.
Assuming that the test launch did occur, there is still the possibility that Russia will release menacing footage of it later this week, should Putin choose to send a threatening message to the U.S. and its Western allies, given the increasing provocations between Russia and the West.
The Kremlin has been known to widely publicize its major weapons test launches by releasing official videos of the events, some of which are released well after the tests.
Should Putin decide to release footage of the Satan II ICBM test launch while Biden is still on his tour of Eastern Europe, it would, without a doubt, be taken as a direct threat to the West and seen as a massive escalation of the conflict between Russia, Ukraine, and its Western allies. Hopefully, no such occurrence takes place.