Russia conducted an unsuccessful test of the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile around the time of United States President Joe Biden visit to the Ukrainian capital, reports suggest.
According to a CNN report, Russia used a deconfliction line to notify the US about an upcoming test, and that the test did not pose a threat to the US.
CNN referred to two US officials close to the matter, who added that the test is believed to have been unsuccessful, as it was not officially announced despite being performed during Biden’s visit and on the eve of the state of the nation address of the president Vladimir Putin.
Biden visited Kyiv on February 20, 2023. According to White house officials, the US and Russia were in communication during the visit, ensuring deconfliction. However, an air raid still sounded in Kyiv as Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reportedly due to the takeoff of miG-31 fighter jets in Belarus.
Several unconfirmed reports regarding an upcoming Russian ICBM test were published before Biden’s visit to Kyiv. Analysts later added that the test was likely to have been unsuccessful.
According to one report, the missile was most likely launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk Oblast, approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Moscow. The missile was reportedly launched towards the Kura Missile Test Range in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
A vapor trail from what may have been another missile test was also noticed on February 18, suggesting that two tests could have taken place.
On February 22, 2023, Bloomberg also reported that, according to at least one US official, the test was not performed while Biden was in Kyiv.
The official also said Russia notified the US about the upcoming test under the obligations of the New START treaty.
On February 21, during his speech to the nation, Putin said that Russia will suspend its participation in the treaty, which not only obligates the participants to notify each other about ICBM tests but also regulates the arsenals of nuclear weapons and allows them to be inspected.
Russia’s newest missile
The RS-28 Sarmat, also known as the Satan II, is a heavy ballistic missile which is said to be capable of carrying up to 10 tons of payload to the range of 18,000 kilometers (11,000 miles).
Numerous problems with the missile’s development have been reported, stating that hardware problems prevented the first flight tests for many years.
Russia’s statements about the testing of the missile have been largely conflicting. While some reports alleged that testing has been ongoing since at least 2017, others announced that the first flight took place in 2022.
The March 2022 flight was reportedly successful, with Russian officials saying that after the launch from Plesetsk the missile reached its target.