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Putin orders ‘comprehensive measures’ in response to US missile test

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Klimentyev Mikhail/TASS /ZUMA Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia’s military to prepare “comprehensive measures” in response to a U.S. missile test that has raised fears of a new arms race after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

According to a transcript of a meeting Putin held on August 23 with members of the Russian Security Council, the president said the U.S. test just 16 days after the demise of the INF made it “obvious that it was not improvisation, but became the next link in a chain of events that were planned and carried out earlier.”

Putin said that with this in mind, all facets of the Russian security apparatus should “analyze the level of threat posed by the aforementioned actions of the United States for our country and take comprehensive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.”

After accusing Russia of violating the pact for years, the United Sates officially withdrew on August 2 from the 1987 INF Treaty banning ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

Earlier this week the Pentagon in Washington said it had fired a missile that hit a target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. It was the first such test since the United States withdrew from the treaty.

Moscow immediately accused Washington of stoking military tensions with the test, and along with China called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the issue.

According to the August 23 transcript, Putin said Russia will not be drawn into a “costly” new arms race even though “it is now obvious to everyone” that the United States withdrew from the treaty “to cover up the work carried out by Washington in violation of it.”

The Pentagon said it would use the data collected from the August 18 launch to inform the Defense Department’s “development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”