Russia accuses U.S. of escalating tensions with missile test

Russian officials on Tuesday accused the United States of stoking tensions with the testing of a ground-launched cruise missile, a weapon previously banned under a nuclear arms treaty that was abandoned this month after 31 years.

Russian lawmakers emphasized it would’ve taken the United States longer than 16 days — the time period since its INF withdrawal — to research and develop the missile it tested Monday. Photo by Scott Howe/Department of Defense

The U.S. military conducted the test Monday from San Nicolas Island, Calif., using a ground mobile launcher to hit a target more than 310 miles away. The test would not have been permitted under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the United States abandoned Aug. 2.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov called the testing “regrettable.”

“The United States has evidently set the course for fomenting military tensions,” he said.

“It is noteworthy that the test of an advanced Tomahawk-type missile was conducted just 16 days after the U.S. withdrew from INF, and the treaty was terminated. Perhaps, there can be no clearer and more explicit confirmation of the fact that the United States has been developing such systems for a long time, and preparations for quitting the agreement included, in particular, the relevant research and development,” Ryabkov added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Monday that Russia has a moratorium on deploying land-based intermediate-range systems — unless the United States deploys such a system. The Kremlin leader said three days after the U.S. withdrawal, “all our actions will be of a reactive, tit-for-tat nature.”

Russian Sens. Konstantin Kosachev and Frants Klintsevich both said it would have taken the United States longer than the 16 days since withdrawing from the INF Treaty to research and develop such a missile for the test.

“We, of course, will do our best in the shortest period of time to ensure that the United States does not have superiority in these types of weapons,” Klintsevich said.

The United States threatened for months to withdraw from the INF Treaty, accusing Russia of developing and fielding a missile system in violation of the agreement. The treaty, which was agreed to in late 1987 and took effect in mid-1988, banned all land-based cruise missiles with a range of between 310 miles and 3,417 miles.

ByDanielle Haynes