Vladimir Putin has promised a “symmetrical response” to the US test of a missile banned under a nuclear weapons treaty rubbished this month by the Trump administration amid fears of a new arms race.
A new land-based version of the navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile fired from an island in California struck a target more than 310 miles away on Sunday, according to the Pentagon. The recently defunct 1987 US-Russian intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty banned land-based missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,410 miles.
On Friday, Mr Putin told his security council that the test just 16 days after the treaty’s demise proved that the United States had long been developing weapons in violation of the agreement, while accusing Russia of the same as part of a “propaganda campaign”.
He argued that the use of an Mk41 launcher on Sunday confirmed Russia’s longstanding complaints that US missile defence installations in Romania and Poland could be repurposed to fire offensive weapons.
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.
“American politicians at a high level are saying that the deployment of new systems could start in the Asia Pacific region, but that also touches on our vital interests, since this is all close to Russia’s borders,” he said.