Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. Shield in Mind, Russia Tests New Missile

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. Shield in Mind, Russia Tests New Missile

Article excerpt

Russian generals reported a successful test on Wednesday of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that they said was designed to overpower the American missile defense system.

Russia's military reported a successful test on Wednesday of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that generals said was designed to overpower the American missile defense system.

Russian generals told news agencies that the missile's technological development was a direct response to the U.S. plans for a shield. The rocket, one unidentified military source told Interfax, uses a new type of fuel to shorten the time it needs to launch into space, increasing its ability to evade interceptors. One Russian news portal said the rocket was called the "Avant-garde."

Whatever its military significance, the launching, as with other prominently announced tests, seemed intended as much to deliver a political message as demonstrate the rocket's ability to streak across Russia and hit a target on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

General Viktor Yesin, a retired rocket forces commander, told the Interfax news service that the rocket was emblematic of the type of arms race Russia was ready to embark on if the United States went through with plans to put missile interceptors in Europe.

"This is one of the technical means Russia's political and military leadership designed to answer America's global system of missile defense," General Yesin said. Russian officials have threatened for years that they would bulk up on new intercontinental ballistic missiles, within the limits of arms control treaties, in an effort to overpower the American system, and that it could look like a new arms race.

The test on Wednesday took on added political significance coming two weeks after Vladimir V. Putin assumed the presidency for a third term. In another worrying sign for relations between Russia and the United States, Mr. Putin canceled a visit to the United States for a summit meeting of the Group of 8 nations last weekend held by President Barack Obama at Camp David. …

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