Moscow has for the first time test-fired its Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile outside the Russian soil during a drill in Tajikistan, targeting a simulated terrorist camp located 15 kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border.
Colonel Yaroslav Roshchupkin, an aide to the commander of Russia’s Central Military District, made the announcement on Thursday in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast.
Roshchupkin added that Uragan (Hurricane) rockets were also used in the joint military exercise named Dushanbe-Anti-terror 2017 from May 30 to June 1 in Tajikistan.
Russia’s show of missile readiness took place amid mounting concerns over the deployment by the US Air Force of long-range nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress bombers and 800 airmen to the UK in support of joint exercises with NATO allies and partners taking place across Europe in June.
The NATO exercises are to take place near on Russia in the Baltic Sea, the Arctic and along Russia’s border with several NATO partners.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the expansion of US missile systems across the world is a “challenge” to his country and necessitates Moscow’s response in the form of a military build-up in the region.
Sweden’s potential accession to NATO
The Russian also warned against the negative impact of Sweden’s potential NATO membership on bilateral Moscow-Stockholm ties.
He said Russia will have to take additional security measures should Sweden join the Western military alliance.
“If Sweden joins NATO, it will negatively affect our relations because it will mean that NATO facilities will be set up in Sweden so we will have to think about the best ways to respond to this additional threat,” Putin said, adding, “We will consider this [membership] as an additional threat for Russia and will search for the ways to eliminate it,” Putin added.
Russia ties with India, China
Putin also praised Russia’s mutual ties with India and China.
He said relations with India in military and technical fields are unprecedented by its scope.
“Perhaps, there is no need to cite figures and the volumes of our deliveries in the sphere of military and technical cooperation. They are simply absolutely unprecedented by their scope,” he said.
“We don’t have such deep cooperation in sensitive defensive spheres with any country of the world and we do have such cooperation with India,” Putin said.
The Russian leader also said ties with China were also developing “in quite a positive way.”
“Relations with China have been evolving in quite a positive way …We call it a comprehensive strategic partnership,” he said.
Putin went on to say that Russian-Chinese strategic partnership covers international issues.
“This [strategic partnership] particularly concerns our cooperation on the international stage where we always seek and find common approaches to the most complex issues and often times speak in one voice,” he pointed out.
Russia and China represent the East and communism, while the United States and its European allies represent Western capitalism in the current post- Cold War era.