Increased activity has been observed at a Russian base in the remote regions of Siberia, according to American surveillance planes and satellites.
The New York Times reports that the activity resembles missile tests that Russia has conducted in the past. The missile in question is believed to be the Burevestnik or SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile, which, according to Putin, is nuclear-powered and can be equipped with a nuclear warhead.
Designed to fly up to 22,000 kilometers, this missile could potentially reach most parts of the Earth.
American surveillance planes have flown over the area several times in the past two weeks and have even issued a warning to pilots to avoid the vicinity.
This is not the first time Russia has attempted to test this particular missile. Between 2017 and 2019, there have been 13 known tests, all of which have failed in one way or another. Some have fallen into the sea, while others have exploded, causing casualties among rescue workers.
According to a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative organization, the missile is a second-strike weapon designed to be launched at an enemy and destroy large urban areas after Russia itself has been attacked.
In late August, Russian authorities issued a warning for pilots to avoid an area of the Barents Sea, a warning that has since been extended multiple times and resembles one issued in connection with a previous test in 2019.
The New York Times concludes that the secrecy surrounding the missile and its tests makes it uncertain whether a test has taken place, is imminent, or if multiple tests are in the pipeline.