According to reports, Russia attempted and failed to test-launch its new intercontinental ballistic missile, nicknamed “Satan II,” while US President Joe Biden was in Ukraine meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The 200-tonne nuclear missile has the capability to carry multiple warheads and strike any location in the world. Russian officials reportedly notified Washington through deconfliction lines about the test launch, while Biden’s aides warned Moscow of his visit to Kyiv, cautioning against any attack on the city. It is unclear whether the attempted launch took place during the four hours Biden was in the
Ukrainian capital. Putin has previously boasted about the missile’s capabilities, which has a range of 18,000km and can deliver between 10 and 15 nuclear warheads at hypersonic speeds. Military analysts speculate that it could reach London in as little as 13 minutes. Putin did not mention the test launch in his first state-of-the-nation address since invading Ukraine, but he did announce Russia’s withdrawal from the New Start treaty, citing the absurdity of US inspections on Russian soil. Putin warned he would restart nuclear testing if the US did so.
The attempted test-launch of the Satan II missile system during Biden’s visit to Ukraine has raised concerns about Russia’s military capabilities and intentions. The missile’s ability to strike anywhere in the world with multiple warheads at hypersonic speeds could potentially pose a significant threat to global security. Despite this, Russian officials did not see the test launch as an escalation, according to sources.
The use of deconfliction lines to notify each other of military activities highlights the importance of communication between nations to avoid misunderstandings and unintended conflicts. Biden’s aides used these lines to notify Moscow of his visit to Kyiv, underscoring the value of such channels in reducing tensions.
The announcement of Russia’s withdrawal from the New Start treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the US, has further heightened concerns about a new nuclear arms race. Putin’s statement that he would restart nuclear testing if the US did so is particularly alarming, as it raises the possibility of a renewed nuclear arms race.
The situation in Ukraine also remains precarious, with ongoing clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region. The attempted test launch of the Satan II missile system comes just one year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and is a clear indication of its continued aggression towards its neighbour.
In conclusion, the attempted test launch of Russia’s Satan II missile system during Biden’s visit to Ukraine raises concerns about Russia’s military capabilities and intentions, as well as the need for communication channels to prevent misunderstandings and unintended conflicts. The withdrawal from the New Start treaty and the possibility of renewed nuclear testing by Russia underscores the risk of a new nuclear arms race. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine also remains a significant threat to regional stability.