MOSCOW -- Israel said it carried out a joint missile test with the U.S. over the Mediterranean Sea that was detected Tuesday morning by a Russian radar system.
Earlier in the day, Russia announced the detection of two “ballistic” objects over the Mediterranean, state-run media outlets RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS reported.
The two launches were picked up at 10:16 a.m. Moscow time, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly informed President Vladimir Putin.
The news initially raised concerns of a possible missile strike against Syria -- the U.S. is weighing an attack on the country in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government -- but the Russian Embassy in Damascus reported no sign of any explosions or damage from missiles, RIA-Novosti reported.
About two hours after Russia announced the detection of objects over the Mediterranean, Israel’s Defense Ministry said the detected launches were made by Israel jointly with the United States to test an Israeli anti-missile system.
“The said launches were the testing of target missile Yakor [Anchor] which is used to test anti-missile defense systems,” an Israel defense spokesman told RIS-Novosti.
Igor Korotchenko, a Russian defense analyst and editor-in-chief of the National Defense journal called the tests “totally irresponsible” at what is a critical time in the volatile region.
“Israel and the United States should have thought better of the grave risks of such tests at this critical time in this region before launching those missiles,” Korotchenko said in an interview with The Times. “The Russian early warning radar system proved its efficiency full well and Russia could have put its nuclear forces on higher alert.
“If Israel chose to act so totally irresponsibly, the United States should have at least used the hotline between Washington and the Kremlin to warn Moscow of such tests despite the current coldness in the relations between the two countries,” Korotchenko added. “It is not clear whether the Kremlin was informed in advance.”