Russia accuses U.S. of stoking tensions with missile test - TASS

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 August 2019 08:59 GMT

(Adds Chinese comment; paragraphs 9-11)

MOSCOW, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Russia accused the United States on Tuesday of stoking military tensions by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, but said it would not be drawn into an arms race, TASS news agency reported.

The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, its first such operation since the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact this month.

The United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia on Aug. 2 after accusing Moscow of violating the pact, a charge dismissed by the Kremlin.

The U.S. missile test would have been prohibited under the treaty.

"All this elicits regret, the United States has obviously taken the course of escalating military tensions. We will not succumb to provocations," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

"We won't allow ourselves to be pulled into a costly arms race."

The INF banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Ryabkov said that despite the test, Russia did not plan to deploy any new missiles, unless the United States did so first.

China also expressed concern.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the test showed the United States was stoking a new arms race and confrontation, which would have a serious negative impact on regional and global security.

"We advise the U.S. side to abandon outdated notions of Cold War thinking and zero sum games, and exercise restraint in developing arms," Geng told a daily news briefing. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clarence Fernandez )

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