The Russian military has test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a testing range in the Astrakhan Region, 450km east of the Ukrainian border, during global tension over seizing control of Crimea.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the Strategic Rocket Forces launched an RS-12M Topol missile from Kapustin Yar testing range, and the simulated warhead hit a designated target in Kazakhstan.
The launch was aimed at testing suggested improvements of the missile, which entered service with the Russian Army in 1985, Yegorov added.
An unnamed US defence official told Agence France Presse: "We have been notified of this test earlier this week. It’s not unexpected.”
The testing coincided with reports of deployments of apparently Russia-commanded troops in Crimea, which has already been denied by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian officials have claimed that the Russian soldiers and armoured vehicles still remain near the country’s eastern border, even after Putin ordered around 150,000 troops who had been participating in snap readiness drills near the border, to return to their respective bases.
Meanwhile, Russia has agreed to hold talks with NATO on the Ukraine crisis today during an extraordinary session requested by the Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels, Belgium.
In addition, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold parallel talks with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, after a conference in Paris attended by all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Russia is being pressurised by the US and its Western allies either to de-escalate the situation or face economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.