The US military announced that it test-fired ground-based cruise missile in San Nicolas Island in California. The launch marked the first military demonstration since the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
The Pentagon issued a statement saying the missile with a range of more than 500 km was fired on Sunday at 2:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time. "The Department of Defence conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California," the Pentagon said.
Earlier this month, the US officially withdrew from the 1987 treaty with Russia, triggering concerns about regional security.
The treaty, signed by then US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was withdrawn by President Donald Trump's administration in February, following allegations that Moscow violated the terms. NATO also supported the position of the US.
The six-month withdrawal process was initiated after Russia's Novator 9M729 cruise missile violated the treaty, which bans all land-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres to be stationed in Europe.
Russia has denied the claims and insisted that the country had followed the treaty's norms.
Withdrawal from the treaty allows both countries to develop their military assets in comparison to Chinese military capabilities. The bilateral treaty between the US and Russia slowed down US weapons development, especially in intermediate-range nuclear missiles, something that China was able to develop over the years.
Russian lawmaker Frants Klintsevich on Monday responded to the US missile launch and called it a mockery of the international community.
"The testing by (the) US military of a land-based missile banned under INF treaty two weeks after the official termination of this treaty is a blatant cynicism and mockery of the international community," reported RIA news agency.
He also said that Russia had no intention to enter into an arms race. "We, of course, will do our best in the shortest period of time to ensure that the United States does not have superiority in these types of weapons," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron said it was the US and not Russia that withdrew "unilaterally" from the INF. The country had no intentions to deploy "intermediate- and shorter-range missiles where the US has no similar weapons."
"We are unilaterally undertaking obligations. If the United States produces such offensive systems, we will also do so," he added.