Russia considers the U.S.’s missile test a “new threat” that the country has to respond accordingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that the military conducted a test of a ground- based version of Navy Tomahawk cruise missile.
Speaking at a news conference in Helsinki, Putin stressed that the U.S. reequipped a sea-based Tomahawk missile for ground launches, which can be conducted from the Mk-41 systems, deployed in Romania, and therefore can reach Russian territory.
"These missiles can be launched from launchers that are already located in Romania and should be located in Poland in the near future. It is enough only to change the software [for a new type of launch]. For us, this means that there is a new threat to which we must respond appropriately," he said.
In a separate statement, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the U.S. missile test confirms Moscow’s concerns voiced for many years that Mk-41 systems can be used not only for missile interceptions, but also for their launches and therefore the U.S. violated the defunct INF Treaty by deploying them in Europe.
"The day before, such a system was used to test the product, violating the INF Treaty, and the system has been deployed in Romania for many years," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.
On Aug. 2, the U.S. formally withdrew from the nuclear pact, following a months-long war of words between Moscow and Washington.
The treaty was signed in 1987 by then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, reducing the chances of a nuclear war in Europe.
Under the treaty, both sides destroyed the whole class of intermediate- and short-range missiles in a span of four years.
By Elena Teslova in Moscow