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Russia Tests 2 Ballistic Missiles

November 17, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia fired its third set of test missiles in a month on Wednesday, sending a message of combat-readiness as the country wrangles with the United States over a proposed missile defense system.

Two missiles were launched from a submarine in the Barents Sea north of Scandinavia and struck their targets about 3,100 miles away on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East, the Navy’s press service said.

Like two previous launches, the move appeared to carry a strong political message.

Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, the commander of the Russian Navy, congratulated the Arctic Fleet on Wednesday’s launches, saying in a statement that ``the naval strategic force demonstrated top combat-readiness and met the highest modern standards.″

Russian ties with the West have deteriorated over a series of disputes in recent years.

Most recently, Russia has clashed with the United states over a U.S. proposal to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to allow the United States to build a missile-defense system to protect against limited nuclear attacks.

The United States says the modification is meant to protect against nuclear strikes by so-called rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea. But Russian military officials have said the real target is Russia.

The ABM treaty allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to protect one area each with interceptor missiles, but banned the further development of such defenses on the premise that fear of mutual destruction would stop either side from launching a nuclear attack.

NATO’s expansion to the east earlier this year, and its airstrikes against Yugoslavia, have also soured relations with Russia _ as has Western criticism of Russia’s military campaign against breakaway Chechnya.

On Nov. 2, the Russian military began flexing its might, firing an interceptor missile designed to knock down ballistic missiles _ the first such test in years. And two weeks earlier, it launched a Stiletto intercontinental ballistic missile.

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