Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “symmetric” response to the United States’ recent test-launch of a cruise missile.
During a meeting with Russia’s Security Council on Friday, Putin ordered the Defense Ministry and other bodies to “study the level of threat posed by these US actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.”
On August 18th, the US military test-fired a ground version of Tomahawk cruise missile that travelled about 500km (310 miles) after ditching the landmark INF Treaty .
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Press TV reports: The launch of such a missile would have been banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia that the US officially withdrew from earlier this month.
Putin had already warned that Moscow would take action to counter the threat from the new US missile.
The INF treaty had been signed in 1987, banning land-based missiles with ranges of between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
Before withdrawing, the US accused Russia of violating the deal by developing a certain missile, whose specifics Moscow later publicized to prove Washington wrong.
In the Friday meeting, the Russian president also said that Washington’s “true intentions” were to “deploy formerly banned weapons in various regions of the world.” Deployments in Europe and Asia, he said, threatened Moscow’s “basic interests” since they would be “close to Russian borders.”
“It is noteworthy that the tests of a missile with characteristics prohibited under the treaty were conducted just 16 days after the completion of the procedure of denouncing that treaty initiated by Washington,” Putin said, adding that the US withdrawal was apparently “not an improvisation but another link in a chain of pre-planned actions.”
He said the US had waged a “propaganda campaign” by alleging Russia’s non-compliance with the treaty as a cover for Washington’s missile development and planned withdrawal from the INF treaty.
But the Russian president also said that Moscow did not intend to be drawn into “an expensive arms race that is devastating for our economy.”
He also said Russia was still open to “an equitable and constructive dialog” with the US over security matters.