Putin orders 'symmetric' measures after 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

Putin orders 'symmetrical response' to US missile test

Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown here at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday, said on Friday that Russia should respond in kind to the testing of a new US cruise missile.

Putin was speaking just days after the United States military test-fired a ground version of Tomahawk cruise missile that travelled about 500km (310 miles) before hitting a mock target.

The US Department of Defense said Monday it had tested a type of ground-launched missile that was banned under the 1987 INF agreement, which limited the use of nuclear and conventional medium-range weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a recent USA missile test showed that Washington aimed to deploy previously banned missiles around the world.

By leaving the agreement, Washington wanted to "untie its hands for the deployment to different regions of the world of missiles that were previously banned", Mr Putin said.

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

Despite his order, Putin said Russian Federation remained open to talks with the United States aimed at restoring trust and strengthening global security. Now, one "cannot deny" a breach of the now defunct treaty, he added.

He argued that the use of an Mk41 launcher on Sunday confirmed Russia's longstanding complaints that United States missile defence installations in Romania and Poland could be repurposed to fire offensive weapons.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that the U.S. test showed that Washington was stoking a new arms race and confrontation, which would have a serious negative effect on regional and global security.

Putin said at a government meeting that the test confirmed prior suspicions that the United States had planned to place banned weapons in Europe. However, Moscow says it is not aiming for an arms race.

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"It's indisputable now", the Russian leader said.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters recently that the Pentagon wants to deploy missile systems "to the Asia Indo-PACOM theater".

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.

"Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal to deal with the United States", he said, adding that all such new weapons would have to be included in any future strategic arms reduction treaty.

Putin said Moscow "is still open to equal and constructive dialogue" with the U.S. to discuss global security.

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