The Russian military has successfully test-fired a short-range anti-missile system, the Russian defense ministry announced Tuesday. The latest move comes four days after Pentagon officials said that the United States was considering deploying missiles in Europe to counter potential threats from Russia.
“The launch was aimed at confirming the performance characteristics of missile defense shield anti-missiles operational in the Aerospace Defense Forces,” the defense ministry said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
According to Lieutenant General Sergei Lobov, deputy commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces, “an anti-missile of the missile defense shield successfully accomplished its task and destroyed a simulated target at the designated time.”
The test's timing is crucial as the U.S. government is considering aggressive moves, including deploying land-based missiles in Europe, in response to Russia’s alleged violation of a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Last year, Washington had reportedly accused Moscow of violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, by testing a banned ground-launched cruise missile.
“The administration is considering an array of potential military responses to Russia's ongoing violation of the INF Treaty,” Agence France-Presse quoted Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, as saying last week. “All the options under consideration are designed to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from their violation.”
In 2015, Russia is also expected to triple the production of missiles -- for use in air-defense and missile-defense complexes -- compared to last year, in a sign that the country is strengthening its missile defense shield.
“The defense-industrial complex has been ordered to step up the production of missiles manufactured for air defense and missile defense complexes by 200%, which is to considerably increase the capabilities of the newly-created arm of the Russian armed forces -- the Air and Space Force,” a source at the Russian defense ministry told TASS.