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Russia claims it has a US Tomahawk cruise missile – US says that’s ‘absurd’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (U.S. Department of State/Flickr)
April 27, 2018

The Russian Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that it acquired a U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile and plans on studying it in order to improve Russia’s own weapons systems, CNBC reported this week. The U.S. Department of Defense told CNBC that Russia’s claim is “absurd.”

A Russian ministry official asserted that military officials were able to obtain an unexploded Tomahawk cruise missile along with one high accuracy air-launched missile from the U.S.-led airstrike in Syria on April 14.

Russian news agency TASS claimed that the missiles were brought to Moscow.

Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, the chief of the Russian General Staff’s main operations directorate, revealed in a news briefing on Wednesday that the Russian military was already hard at working studying the missiles.

“Some of the missiles failed to reach the designated targets apparently due to technical failures, which created the risk of destroying civilian facilities and causing civilian casualties,” Rudskoy said.

“Two of them, a cruise missile Tomahawk and a high-accuracy air-launched missile, have been brought to Moscow,” he said, adding that Russian specialists were studying them. “The results of this work will be used to improve Russian weapon systems.”

However, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon was quick to dismiss Russia’s claims. Pahon stated that it was an attempt to distract people from Russia’s alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

“This is another example of the Russian disinformation campaign to distract attention from their moral complicity to the Assad Regime’s atrocities and the civilian carnage in western Syria,” Pahon said.

“The claims… regarding our target selection are absurd, as is the rest of the (TASS) article. On the Tomahawk, we have seen no proof, other than statements made to Russian state-owned media, that their claims are true. This is likely another smoke screen of propaganda to distract from the real issue at hand — the murder of innocent civilians by a murderous regime propped up by Russian backing,” he added.

Tomahawk missiles are “modern, mature, powerful” and can “can circle for hours, shift course instantly on command and beam a picture of its target to controllers halfway around the world before striking with pinpoint accuracy,” according to manufacturer Raytheon.

U.S. and allied militaries have deployed the missiles more than 2,000 times in combat “to conduct precise strikes on high-value targets with minimal collateral damage.” Their use was confirmed in the April 14 strike by the Defense Department.

Vladimir Putin has already boasted his country’s military capabilities on multiple occasions this year and it is unclear what more Russia might gain from studying the missiles.

Putin unveiled state-of-the-art defense systems and mock missile demonstrations in a speech to his country after his re-election in early March, and the country continues to conduct more military tests on a regular basis.