New US missile: Moscow denounces “escalation of military tensions”

Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of "escalating military tensions" after the announcement of their first mid-range missile test since the Cold War, a result of the end of the INF disarmament treaty.

Less than a month after the death of this text that abolishes the use - by Russia and the United States alone - land-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, the arms race seems to be revived between the two rivals of the Cold War.

The successful US test was carried out Sunday from San Nicolas Island off California (west) at 14:30 (21:30 GMT), according to the Pentagon, which said it is a "variant of a Tomahawk ground-ground attack cruise missile".

Images published by the US military show the missile fired near the shore, from a Mark 41 vertical launch system.

"We regret all this, the US is blatantly on the way to an escalation of military tensions, but we will not give in to provocation," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

According to Riabkov, the "extremely tight deadline" it took for the United States to successfully carry out this test of a new missile after the end of the INF Treaty shows that Washington had long been preparing for the death of this text signed between the two countries.

According to the diplomat, the use of Tomahawk and Mark-41 means that "these systems will be used for launching not only missiles interceptors, but also cruise missiles", which have a long range.

- "Hearing" Russia -

After six months of deaf dialogue, Russia and the United States took note at the beginning of August of the end of the intermediate-range nuclear weapons (INF) treaty, whose signature at the end of the Cold War in 1987 had put an end to the Euromissile crisis, triggered by the deployment in Europe of Soviet SS-20 nuclear warheads.

The treaty was denounced by US President Donald Trump on February 1, then by Moscow the next day, the two countries accusing each other of violating it.

The Americans are questioning the Russian missile 9M729 with a range according to them of 1,500 km, which Moscow denies, insisting that its new missile has a maximum range of "480 kilometers".

The United States has long deployed on-board mid-range cruise missiles, and they are generally fired from Mark 41 systems. What is new with Sunday's test is that the launch system was installed on the ground. The missile is conventional, but any missile can subsequently be equipped with a nuclear warhead.

Visiting France on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated that Moscow would not deploy new missiles until Washington does.

At a joint press conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, he accused the Americans of not "listening" to Moscow. "Europeans have an interest in listening to us and reacting," he said.

In early August, Putin had already called Washington to a "serious dialogue" on disarmament to "avoid chaos". He had then proposed a moratorium on the deployment of nuclear weapons prohibited by the INF Treaty.

There is now only one bilateral nuclear agreement between Moscow and Washington: the START Treaty, which keeps the nuclear arsenals of both countries well below the level of the Cold War. It must expire in 2021.

Source: Seychelles News Agency