Putin vows 'symmetric response' to US missile test

The explosion of an engine at the state central navy testing range caused a spike in radiation levels in the Arkhangelsk region this month

UN Security Council divided over US missile test

The new missile test conducted by the United States and Washington's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty were the links in a chain of pre-planned events, according to Putin.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday that on August 18 the US "conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California". The ground-launched version of the Tomahawk was removed from service after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was ratified in the late 1980s.

'As you know, we have never wanted, do not want and will not get involved in a costly, destructive arms race, ' Putin said.

He ordered the Defense Ministry and other agencies to "take the necessary measures to prepare a symmetrical answer".

"How would we know what they will deploy in Romania and Poland - missile defense systems or strike missile systems with a significant range?" he said, claiming that the test had disproven United States assurances that the launchers were suitable only for interceptor missiles, not surface-to-surface missiles.

In recent years, Russian Federation has consistently voiced unease over U.S. missile systems, stationed in countries such as Romania, or potentially situated in countries such as Poland, being used for offensive purposes.

He said Moscow was against placement of the launchers in Poland and Romania, but the USA denied they could be used to launch Tomahawks. "The question is, how do we know what will be placed in Romania and Poland?"

Washington had denied the test marks the start of an arms race as it denied having plans to develop nuclear-tipped weapons. However, Moscow says it is not aiming for an arms race.

The U.S. follows through on warnings to Moscow and withdraws from the Reagan-era nuclear treaty with Russia; Lucas Tomlinson reports from the Pentagon. Now, one "cannot deny" a breach of the now defunct treaty, he added. Missile defense facilities or longer-range rocket strike systems?

This week's US test would have been banned under the INF, which prohibited land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles, reducing the ability of the United States and Russian Federation to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

The newly tested cruise missile recalls a nuclear-armed U.S. weapon that was deployed in several European NATO countries in the 1980s, along with Pershing 2 ground-based ballistic missiles, in response to a buildup of Soviet SS-20 missiles targeting Western Europe.

The UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, said the ending of the INF treaty should not be the catalyst for renewed and unconstrained competition in missile development, acquisition and proliferation.

Earlier this week the Pentagon in Washington said it had fired a missile that hit a target after more than 500 kilometers of flight.

"The United States will not remain a party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russian Federation", said US acting ambassador to the U.N. Stephen Cohen.

Russian Federation warned of a potential arms race with the United States on Thursday (August 22) during a Security Council meeting about USA plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles.

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