The Pentagon announced Monday that the US conducted a flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile off the western coast of the US on Sunday. The missile hit its target after more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of flight, the Pentagon said.
The test would have been previously banned under the now-defunct Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Officials stressed that the missile is designed to carry a conventional payload, not a nuclear one.
The US withdrew from the INF Treaty with Moscow earlier this month after years of accusing Russia of violating the treaty via its deployment of its nuclear-capable SSC-8 missile. The arms control pact had limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
The US missile test was discussed at a UN Security Council session on Thursday, upon a request from Russia and China.
In the meeting, Russia blamed the US for escalating tensions. Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy said that “because of the US’s geopolitical ambitions, we are all one-step from an arms race that cannot be controlled or regulated in any way.”
The US Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen responded by accusing Russia of “materially breaching the INF treaty.”
“We’re here today because the Russian federation preferred a world in which the United States continued to fulfill its INF treaty regulations, while the Russian federation did not,” Cohen said.
The US withdrawal from the INF follows its exit from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, another Cold War era treaty, in 2002. Putin said Friday the withdrawal in 2002 “provoked” Russia.
“Our development of the latest systems and weapons that are really unparalleled in the world was caused — and, it can be said, provoked — by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” he said. “We were simply forced and were obliged, of course, to ensure the security of our people and our country.”