US military officials say they are not deterred by a recent launch of a new Russian ICBM as they were aware of the launch in advance, and it amounts to nothing more than more nuclear saber-rattling by Vladimir Putin who is losing the war in Ukraine.

On Wed. Apr. 20, Russia held a test launch of its intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat, according to the country’s defense ministry. 

The missile launched at 3:12 p.m. Moscow time from a silo at the Plesetsk State Testing Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Region, an area in western Russia about 1,640 miles north of Moscow.   

The defense ministry said the missile flew toward the Kura test site on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which sits along the Bering Sea before it landed in a “designated area” in Kamchatka. 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said later on Wednesday that Russia had notified the United States ahead of the test, so “we were not surprised by it and did not deem it to be a threat to the United States or allies.”

Kirby added that the Defense Department “remains focused on Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.”

Under the New START treaty between Washington and Moscow, either side is obligated to notify the other ahead of time if it plans to test launch intercontinental-range weapons. 

The Russian defense ministry said that after it completes the Sarmat test program, the weapon would go into service with the country’s Strategic Missile Forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in March 2018 that his country’s new missile system would render any US missile defense system “useless” and warned the West that it had “failed to contain Russia.”

On the day of the test, Putin went on to congratulate his military on the launch and said it would “give thought to those who are trying to threaten Russia,” state-run TASS news agency quoted the ministry statement. 

A senior US defense official called Putin’s praise unhelpful rhetoric, “given the current context of things.”

“Certainly, it’s not the kind of thing that we would expect from a responsible nuclear power,” the official told reporters on Wednesday.  

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