The Battle for the Ukraine
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|Bernard Banks||March 4th 2014|
from BBC and agencies
The Russian military says it has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, as tension continues over Ukraine's Crimea region. A Topol RS-12M missile was launched from Russia's Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan, it said. It comes after the US accused Russia of an "act of aggression" in Crimea. The US said it was notified of the launch before it took place, as required by arms treaties.
Moscow is in de facto control of the Crimean peninsula after troops thought to be Russian or pro-Russian took control of strategic points in recent days. US Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting the Ukrainian capital Kiev, praised the "restraint" of the new government there, which took power after the overthrow of Russian ally President Viktor Yanukovych last month.
Defending his threat to use the Russian military in Ukraine if he felt it necessary, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country was in "chaos" after being seized by "nationalists" and "anti-Semites", and that Russia had a right to protect its citizens there.
The Topol was fired at 22:10 (18:10 GMT), the defence ministry in Moscow said, adding: "The aim of the launch was to test a promising intercontinental ballistic missile payload." The nuclear-capable missile reached its target successfully, it said. Tests of the missile, one of Russia's newest, are not unusual but the timing of the launch if confirmed, is likely to alarm observers of the crisis with Ukraine.