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Russia test-launches 'advanced' ballistic missile


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MOSCOW (AFP): Russia on Tuesday carried out a successful test-launch of an "advanced" intercontinental ballistic missile, state news agencies reported amid a fierce standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

"The purpose of the launch is to test the advanced payload of the intercontinental ballistic missile," Russia's three main news agencies quoted a top defence official as saying.

The defence official said the launch involved the RS-12M Topol - a road-mobile missile last reportedly tested by Russia on December 28.

The missile was first put into service in the 1980s and then repeatedly modified. It is referred to as the SS-25 Sickle by NATO and has a reported maximum range of 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles).

The defence official provided no details of the missile's advanced features, saying only that it was launched from Russia's Kapustin Yar rocket launch site near the southern city of Volgograd.

The missile successfully hit its target in the Sary Shagan ballistic missile test range that Russia leases in Kazakhstan.

Russia has been testing warheads that could evade a missile defence shield the United States is deploying together with NATO in Europe over Russia's strong objections.

The Russian defence official said the test was designed to check the warhead's ability to "penetrate missile defence systems".

The test was conducted amid a fierce standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, whose Crimean peninsula has been taken under de facto control by Kremlin-backed troops since the February 22 ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

A US official said that Russia had notified Washington of the missile test in advance.

"We have been notified of this test earlier this week. It's not unexpected," the US defence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

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Russia  ICBM  Test  

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