WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculated move Wednesday to test-launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile, declaring it a warning to those in the West who "try to threaten our country,” fed into a growing concern inside the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden: that Russia is now so isolated from the rest of the world that Putin sees little downside to provocative actions.
Even before the missile launch, U.S. officials and foreign leaders were weighing whether their success in cutting Russia off from much of the global economy, making it a diplomatic pariah, could further fuel Putin’s willingness to assert his country’s strength. The first launch of the nuclear-capable Sarmat missile was just the latest example of how he has tried to remind the world of his capabilities — in space, in cyberspace and along the coast of Europe — despite early setbacks on the ground in Ukraine.
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