Russia tests ballistic missile amid tension over Crimea

Russia`s Defence Ministry said it tested a missile that hit a controlled target in Kazakhstan.

Russia`s Defence Ministry said it tested a missile that hit a controlled target in Kazakhstan.

MOSCOW/MADRID - Russia has reported testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, as tensions remain high over its intervention in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Russia`s Defense Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday saying the army fired a PC-12M Topol missile from the southern city of Astrahan. The missile successfully hit a controlled target in Kazakhstan, it added.

The testing comes as Russian troops have taken over important public offices and main airports in Crimea. The international community has expressed serious concerns over Russia`s military movements in the peninsula.

Russia`s President Vladimir Putin earlier denied there was a Russian military presence in Crimea, saying there were only local self-defence forces and that ethnic Russians had been killed in Crimea.

A Ukraine Foreign Ministry official, Yevgeny Perebiynis, responded by saying Putin had lied and openly tried to mislead the world.

Meanwhile, Russia has announced that Crimea authorities have requested US$6 billion in aid. Russia plans to offer US$1 billion in financial support and the rest will be through investment, said Yevgeni Bushmin, Deputy Chairman of the country`s upper house - Federation Council.

- Exchange of sanctions threats

On Tuesday, Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during his visit to the Spanish capital, Madrid.

The EU External Action Service led by Ashton called the hour-long discussion "interesting."

Russia`s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Aleksandr Lukasevic said Tuesday his country would respond to possible US sanctions over Ukraine crisis.

The US had earlier threatened economic sanctions unless Russia backs down on its military operations in the Crimean peninsula. Russia replied by saying it would consider discontinuing its use of US dollar as a reserve currency as a countermeasure.

Lukasevic said Russia was against unilateral sanctions.

"We have explained time and time again to the US that unilateral sanctions were incompatible with the standards of contemporary international relations," he said. "We haven`t been able to elicit an appropriate response, so we will have to reciprocate."

On Saturday, Putin requested that Russia’s Parliament pass a motion to deploy Russian troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region, after the autonomous Republic of Crimea`s Prime Minister - Sergey Aksenov - called "for assistance in guaranteeing peace on the territory of the autonomous Republic of Crimea."

The Kremlin said it would not disregard the appeal.

Russia`s armed troops remain in Crimea, where they have taken control of all top institutions, important roads and airports, in a move that the West considers a violation of international law.

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