Although a great deal of attention has been focused on Russia’s Zapad ’17 exercises in and around the nation of Belarus in recent weeks, the Russian military machine has been working at full steam back in the homeland as well.  For the first time since 2014, Russia conducted not one, but two Intercontinental Ballistic Missile test launches in the past two weeks, one fitted with what the Russian Defense Ministry referred to as an “experimental warhead.”

A test launch of a Yoshkar-Ola missile division RS-24 Yars solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a detachable warhead, arrived at the designated area on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula at the state-owned Plesetsk Test Space Cosmodrome,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement earlier this week. “All the tasks were fulfilled in full.”

Russian defense analysts have linked these two recent ICBM test launches to the Zapad military exercises held elsewhere in the world, suggesting that the combination of offensive and defensive operations near the NATO controlled Baltic region and the ICBM test launches indicate a larger overall military drill strategy that emulates large-scale war with NATO.

Russia has been conducting an annual large-scale exercise of its strategic forces in October, but this one appears to be linked to the large Zapad-2017 exercise that was completed today,” Russian nuclear forces expert Pavel Podvig explained on the website: Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog.  “It is worth noting that before the launch the missile crews practiced ‘relocation of the missile launcher to a remote launch area.’”