MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russia's test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile this week was in response to U.S. steps that have sparked an arms race and undermined world security, Russian President Vladimir Putin says.
"Our American partners have left the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty. We have warned them then that we will come out with a response to maintain the strategic balance in the world," Putin told a news conference Thursday.
"We conducted a test of a new strategic ballistic missile with multiple warheads, and of a new cruise missile, and will continue to improve our resources."
"We are not the initiators of this new round of the arms race," said Putin. "(Our partners) are stuffing eastern Europe with new weapons. A new base in Bulgaria, another in Romania, a site in Poland, radar in the Czech Republic . . . what are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this."
Russia test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday featuring multiple warheads that senior officials said could pierce any missile defense system, including the planned U.S. shield in Europe.
Russia says the U.S. missile defence shield is a threat to its security and will change the strategic balance in Europe, but Washington dismisses such fears, saying the shield is intended to counter "rogue states."
Copyright 2007 Reuters.