Hours after President Vladimir Putin declared in a speech that any show of force regarding the turbulent government situation in Ukraine would be a “last resort,” the Russian government tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, one the United States government says they were previously informed of.
The missile, according to Al Jazeera, is of an “advanced” variety and was launched from Astrakhan, a southern region of Russia, into a target in Kazakhstan. Russian news sources all gave the same vague statement from the government on the missile launch, that it was intended “to test the advanced payload” of the missile.
Given the delicate nature of politics in the region, the news that Russia had launched a missile was met with some reservations initially. The United States confirmed, however, that they were aware that the launch was occurring, as Russia made sure to inform American officials so as to not be surprised by the military exercise. An anonymous official speaking to the AFP told the news agency: “We have been notified of this test earlier this week. It’s not unexpected.”
The timing of the missile testing followed another tense day in the Ukraine, one which heralded the arrival of John Kerry in the country. Kerry arrived with a message to Russia to retreat and not use force in the region, and promised the new Ukraine government $1 billion in United States assistance, pending approval from Congress.