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Russia tests missile designed to counter US defense shield

Russia has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile – designed to counter a U.S. defense shield being set up in Europe - firing it from one end of the country to the other, according to reports.

News channel Russia Today’s website said that the missile was launched Wednesday from a facility at Plesetsk in northwestern Russia and hit the Kura target range on the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Pacific coast in the country’s east.

Retired Col.-General Viktor Yesin told Russia Today that the missile was "one of the military-technical measures, which Russia’s military-political leadership is taking in response to the deployment of a global anti-missile defense system by the Americans."

The website reported that in September that a test of prototype of the missile had failed. It landed only about six miles from the launch pad.

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The new missile is expected to improve Russia's offensive arsenal, "including by increasing the capability to overcome missile defense systems that are being created," Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. 

Missile with no name?
Russia usually names its weapons, but the defense ministry made no mention of a name for the new missile. It said it could be fired from a mobile launcher. 

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Russia opposes a missile shield the United States and NATO are deploying in Europe, saying it will be able to intercept Russian warheads by about 2018, weakening Moscow's nuclear arsenal and upsetting the post-Cold War balance of power. 

The United States says the system is intended to counter a potential threat from Iran and poses no risk to Russia, but the Kremlin has rejected those assurances and stepped up criticism of the system, to be deployed in four phases by about 2020. 

Last autumn, then-President Dmitry Medvedev outlined steps Russia was taking to neutralize the perceived threat, including upgrades to Russia's offensive nuclear arsenal. 

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Russia and the United States are still in talks to agree cooperation on missile defense, but Moscow has warned of further measures if no such deal is reached and Washington refuses to provide binding guarantees its system will not threaten Russia. 

At a conference in Moscow this month, senior General Nikolai Makarov said Russia could carry out preemptive strikes on future NATO missile defense installations to protect its security. 

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The European system is to include interceptor missile installations in Poland and Romania and a radar in Turkey as well as interceptors and radars on ships based in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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