Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have failed around the time President Joe Biden was in Ukraine on Monday, according to two US officials familiar with the matter.
Russia notified the United States in advance of the launch through deconfliction lines, one official said. Another official said that the test did not pose a risk to the United States and that the US did not view the test as an anomaly or an escalation.
The test of the heavy SARMAT missile – nicknamed the Satan II in the West and capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads – appears to have failed, officials said. It has been successfully tested before and had this one worked, US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin would have highlighted the test in his State of the Nation address on Tuesday.
Instead, Putin made no mention of the launch in the speech that lasted an hour and 45 minutes. He did, however, formally declare that Russia will be suspending his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
CNN initially reported the apparent test occurred while Biden was in Ukraine, based on information from sources. After this story was first published, one of the officials said the test occurred just before Biden was in the country. The second source had told CNN that the test was on Monday without providing any more specific timing.
The timing of the test suggests that the US and Russia were communicating through several different channels earlier this week for deconfliction purposes — US officials also notified the Russians on Sunday night, hours before Biden’s visit to Kyiv, that the president would be making the trip to the Ukrainian capital, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday.