Putin
© AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin
A recent test of a US missile banned by the INF risks backfiring on global security, Vladimir Putin warned. The Russian president said it shows Washington was not interested in the now scrapped landmark accord for quite some time.
"Americans tested this missile too quickly - way too quickly after having announced [they] are leaving the agreement. Given that, we have all reasons to believe that development to make it a ground launched missile - it's a maritime based projectile - started long before [US started] to look for reasons to leave the deal."
The weapon was confirmed by the Pentagon as being a modified version of a sea-based Tomahawk cruise missile, which is normally stationed on warships and submarines. It came just about two weeks after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) officially expired on August 1.

The projectile successfully hit its target more than 500km (310 miles) away - exactly at a distance banned by the 1987 landmark agreement prohibiting all ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500km and 5,500km.

Saying the test only "escalates" security uncertainty in the world, Putin cautioned Europeans that Washington might not inform its allies about the software it plans to use in the missiles.
"I am concerned that the recently tested missile can be fired from launching sites located in Romania and soon planned to be installed in Poland. It only requires a change in software."
That, in turn, poses a clear "danger" to Russia, according to the president. To counter that challenge, Moscow will have to opt for "countermeasures," including development of its own ground-launched short- and mid-range missiles. At the same time, Putin said that Kremlin will not be the first to deploy such weapons close to Europe or anywhere else unless the US does so first.

Washington announced its decision to withdraw from the INF six months before the test-launch, in February, while accusing Russia of developing a non-compliant missile system.

Moscow repeatedly denied the accusations and even invited international inspections of the system in question but no one took the offer. It further maintained that Washington was simply looking for a pretext to abandon the treaty which was once hailed as a milestone in ending the Cold War.