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Vladimir Putin was set to announce a new test of Russia’s feared “Satan II” missile yesterday (February 21), experts believe, but was forced to cut the reference from his speech after the launch ended in embarrassing failure.
In his “state of the union” address, Putin shockingly announced Russia's withdrawal from the New START nuclear weapons treaty.
But his rambling, almost two-hour, speech made no mention of the multi-warhead SARMAT missile – nicknamed the Satan II by NATO.
READ MORE: Russian 'spy ship trying to hack UK internet in North Sea' intercepted, say experts
The test appeared to have been scheduled in an attempt to overshadow US President Joe Biden’s surprise trips to Ukraine and Poland.
But the “unstoppable” missile – which can carry up to 15 nuclear warheads – reportedly failed to launch.
Russia had given the US advance notice of the planned test through official channels set up to prevent test launches being mistakenly interpreted as a first nuclear strike.
Although Mr Biden’s diplomatic visits had not been announced in advance to the public, US officials had used the same hotline to the Kremlin to give Russia notice of the trip.
Russian foreign minister warns 'do not underestimate threat of nuclear war'
A White House official told CNN that the test posed no risk to the US and that it was not being seen as an escalation.
The SARMAT missile was first unveiled in 2016. According to Russian state media, it has a range of almost 7,000 miles, carrying warheads weighting up to a warhead weighing 100 tons.
It has been successfully tested several times in the past – most notably in April last year – when Putin warned that the missile would “give thought to those who are trying to threaten Russia.”
UK will 'cease to exist' after Russia nukes island to bits in WW3, warns Putin ally
In another warning to countries who might pose a “threat” to Russia, last week Russian nuclear-capable TU-95 bombers twice flew within 200 miles of the US coastline.
The bombers, escorted by SU-35 fighters, buzzed the Alaska coastline two days running.
They were intercepted by USAF F35 fighters. A statement from the North American Aerospace Defence Command [NORAD] said: “We remain ready to employ a number of response options in defence of North America and Arctic sovereignty”.
The NORAD statement stressed that there was no apparent connection to the recent reports of unidentified flying objects over Canada and the Great Lakes area.
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- Vladimir Putin
- United States
- Joe Biden
- Russia Ukraine war
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