The Pentagon revealed Monday that it tested a modified ground-launched version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile over the weekend off the coast of California.
The test, where the missile was launched from San Nicolas Island and accurately struck its target after flying more than 310 miles, signals the resumption of an arms competition that some worry could increase U.S.-Russia tensions after the two world powers abandoned a long-standing treaty earlier this month.
On Aug. 18, at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the Defense Department conducted a flight test of a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, Calif. The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform DOD’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities. (Photo: Scott Howe/Defense.gov)
Putin lashed out against the test and issued a warning to the U.S. that any potential plans of deploying American missiles in the Asia-Pacific region “affects our core interests as it is close to Russia's borders", according to a transcript of his remarks on the Kremlin’s website.
“As you know, we have never wanted, do not want and will not get involved in a costly, destructive arms race,” Putin said.
“Study the level of threat posed by these US actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.”
— Vladimir Putin
He added that he ordered the military to “study the level of threat posed by these US actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.”
This is a second reaction by Putin to the U.S. missile test. Putin said Wednesday that the test means “the emergence of new threats, to which we will react accordingly.”
The Trump administration, which gave its six-month notice on Feb. 2 of its pending withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, had repeatedly said Russia was violating its provisions, an accusation then-President Barack Obama made as well.
"The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing the formal withdrawal in early August, calling a Russian missile system prohibited under the agreement a "direct threat to the United States and our allies."
Russia said earlier this month, following the demise of the INF treaty, that it would only deploy new intermediate-range missiles if the U.S. does.
The INF Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles).
Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared with intercontinental ballistic missiles, raising the likelihood of a nuclear conflict over a false launch alert.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and the Associated Press contributed to this report.