Vladimir Putin Vows Russia Will Have 'Symmetrical Response' to U.S. Missile Test

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears of a new arms race after he vowed to respond to the first U.S. missile test since Washington withdrew from a Cold War-era international arms agreement.

Earlier this month, the U.S. officially pulled out the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 300 and 3,400 miles.

Both sides blamed each other for its demise. Washington claimed Moscow violated the agreement for years by developing the land-based cruise missile, the Novator 9M729. Russia meanwhile insisted the U.S. broke the treaty with its European-based ground launchers it claimed could fire Tomahawk cruise missiles.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced it had fired a non-nuclear cruise missile that hit a target after flying 300 miles at San Nicolas Island, California.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during his meeting with governors of Russian regions at the Kremlin on August 22, 2019 in Moscow, Russia. He says that Moscow will respond to the American U.S. missile test. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

In a transcript of a meeting held between Putin and the Russian Security Council, Putin said that Moscow would respond with "comprehensive measures," describing it as "noteworthy" that the U.S. test took place only 16 days after it had pulled out of the treaty.

Putin said: "And it is obvious that it was not improvisation, but was the next link in a chain of events that were planned and carried out earlier. This only confirms the validity of our previous concerns. We always had information that the United States has long been engaged in developing weapons prohibited by the INF Treaty. We have repeatedly pointed this out to our partners.

"All this leaves no doubt about what the true plans of the United States are" he added, which in his view, included being free to to deploy "previously forbidden" missiles in various regions of the world, and close to Russian borders.

Putin said that he had instructed his foreign and defense ministries to "study the level of threat posed by these US actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response."

In the filmed address which was posted on the Kremlin website, Putin also boasted about Russia's "unparalleled" development of "the latest weapons."

The Kremlin has been tight-lipped over the circumstances of a failed missile test in the northern Arkhangelsk region which killed at least five scientists and sparked radiation fears among residents in populated areas near the Nyonoksa test range.