Putin vows 'symmetric response' to US missile test

Clay Curtis
August 23, 2019

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears of a new arms race after he vowed to respond to the first US missile test since Washington withdrew from a Cold War-era global arms agreement.

The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500km of flight, the first such test since the United States pulled out of a major arms control treaty with Russian Federation on 2 August.

The weapon, fired from a universal Mk-41 launch system in California, was banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which the U.S. formally withdrew from on August 2.

On Aug. 2, the US formally withdrew from the INF Treaty, following a months-long war of words between Moscow and Washington. Speaking Friday, Putin charged that the US waged a "propaganda campaign" alleging Russian breaches of the pact to "untie its hands to deploy the previously banned missiles in different parts of the world".

He ordered the Defense Ministry and other agencies: "To take comprehensive measures to prepare a symmetric response".

Russian Federation and China requested Thursday's meeting after the United States tested a ground-launched cruise missile.

U.S. acting ambassador Jonathan Cohen said Russian Federation had deliberately violated the treaty and deployed multiple battalions of ground-launched cruise missiles. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform DOD's development of future intermediate-range capabilities.

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"As you know, we have never wanted, do not want and will not get involved in a costly, destructive arms race", Mr Putin said. Missile defense facilities or longer-range rocket strike systems?

"Now the fact of the violation is clear, and it's useless to deny it", Putin said.

He added the missile test that came just 16 days after the INF treaty's termination has shown that the USA long had started work on the new systems banned by the treaty. Pacific Daylight Time, the Defense Department conducted a flight test of a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, Calif.

Despite his order, Putin said Russian Federation remained open to talks with the United States aimed at restoring trust and strengthening worldwide security.

The newly tested cruise missile recalls a nuclear-armed United States 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 United States has said it has no imminent plans to deploy new land-based missiles in Europe.

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