Putin Orders Russia Military to Respond After US Tests Cruise Missile

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a like-for-like response to a recent USA missile test, which he said showed that Washington aimed to deploy previously banned missiles around the world.

In response, Polyanskiy's U.S. counterpart, Jonathan Cohen, said Russian Federation had decided more than a decade ago to violate its INF treaty obligations, and has deployed multiple battalions of ground-launched cruise missiles "with the ability to strike critical European targets".

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.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen responded by noting Russian Federation violated the treaty years ago while it was still in place, an assertation that has been backed up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Speaking at a meeting of his Security Council, 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 added that he ordered the military to "study the level of threat posed by these USA actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response".

Previously Washington and NATO have accused Moscow of developing the new 9M729 missile which they say violates the treaty, but Russian Federation says its range falls short of 500 kilometres.

"We will not be drawn into a costly arms race that would be disastrous for our economy", Putin said, adding that Russian Federation ranks seventh in military spending after the U.S., China, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Japan.

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. He added that the test confirmed Moscow's prior suspicions that the USA had planned to deploy banned weapons in Europe, as it used a launcher similar to those deployed at a U.S. missile defense site in Romania and a prospective site in Poland.

While commenting on the document, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson said that "the United States should first rethink its attitude to its own obligations and start implementing them before lecturing others". However, Moscow says it is not aiming for an arms race.

When he announced the USA withdrawal, Trump said he'd spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping about a potential deal involving all three nations.

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

"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.

France said that it didn't want "a new arms race" while Stephen Hickey, Britain's political coordinator, said Russia's actions "are in line with a pattern of aggression that represents a clear threat to global peace and security", undermining its claim "that it is a responsible worldwide partner".

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