U.S. Believes Russia Failed Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Test

February 22, 2023


Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile around the time President Biden was in Ukraine on Monday, but the test appears to have failed, sources told CNN.

Russia notified the United States in advance of the launch through deconfliction lines, according to one U.S. official. Another official said the test did not pose a risk to the U.S., nor did the U.S. view the test as an escalation or an anomaly. 

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.

This same missile has been successfully tested before, and had this most recent test worked, Russian President Vladimir Putin likely planned to boast about it during his Tuesday State of the Nation address.

During that address, Putin announced that he was suspending participation in the 2010 New START treaty following Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine. Only hours later, however, Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it would respect the nuclear weapons caps proposed under that treaty, and that Russia would continue to exchange information about ballistic missile test launches, as per earlier agreements with the U.S.

It’s unclear, due to conflicting reports from CNN’s sources, whether the Russian missile test occurred just hours before Biden arrived in Ukraine or during his visit. However, the U.S. had communicated with Russia through several different channels for deconfliction purposes, and it was on Sunday that Washington had informed Moscow of Biden’s visit to Kyiv, according to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. 

Russian officials declined to comment during a news conference. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the matter was “the prerogative of the Ministry of Defense.” 

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