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Russia test-fires ballistic missile amid U.S. pressure over Ukraine
MARCH 06, 2014 02:09  
Even after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered for the Russian troops exercising at a border area with Ukraine to return to their bases, the standoff between the two countries continues.

Russia`s strategic rocket unit has carried out a successful test-launch of the RS-12M Topol, an intercontinental ballistic missile, at its Astrakhan base near the Caspian Sea, the country`s state-run RIA news agency reported Tuesday. The missile has a range of up to 10,500 kilometers.

Although the White House said it had been informed of the launch a long time before, the timing of the test-fire came at a sensitive time when Washington was putting pressure on Moscow over troops in Ukraine.

Russia`s Black Sea Fleet continues to blockade the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russia. According to Ukraine`s border guard unit, Moscow has deployed two naval ships and armed vehicles to blockade the Kerchi Strait.

Russian and Turkish military aircrafts also had a standoff over the Black Sea. The general staff of the Turkish military said Tuesday that eight of its F-16 fighter jets scrambled after Russia`s IL-20 surveillance plane flew over Turkey`s Black Sea coast. Turkey`s Anadolu news agency reported that two Russian warships passed through the Turkish strait of Bosporus early Tuesday to return to the Black Sea Fleet.

The United States put pressure on Russia to completely withdraw Russian troops from Crimea. "I think that it is clear that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further," U.S. State Secretary John Kerry said Tuesday, warning that Washington would take retaliatory measures if Moscow fails to ease the military tensions in the region. On the same day, the U.S. Trade Representative suspended bilateral trade and investment talks with Russia.

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