People protest against Russia about the situation in Crimea on Independence Square in Kiev on March 2, 2014. UPI/Ivan Vakolenko | License Photo
MOSCOW, March 4 (UPI) -- Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from a site in southern Russia Tuesday near its border with Ukraine, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Spokesman Igor Yegorov said the test occurred at Kapustin Yar, about 280 miles east of Ukraine, where the pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by a government Russian President Vladimir Putin has called illegitimate, RIA Novosti reported.
Yegorov said the test was successful as the simulated warhead hit a designated target at a test range in Kazakhstan. He said the goal of the exercise was to test suggested improvements of the ICBM.
A Pentagon official told CBS News the United States detected the launch near the border of Russia and Kazakhstan and that proper notifications were made.
The official said the launch is viewed as non-threatening and is not connected to what is going on in Crimea.
Fired was a Topol RS-12M missile, which RIA Novosti said is a single-warhead missile that has a maximum range of 6,125 miles and can carry a nuclear warhead with a yield of up to 550 kilotons.
The ICBM test came as the United States and others accused Russia of an "act of aggression" in Crimea. Troops thought to be from Russia or pro-Russian took control of strategic points in the pro-Moscow Crimean region in recent days, the BBC said.
Defending his threat to use the Russian military in Ukraine if he thought it was necessary, Putin said Ukraine was in "chaos" after being seized by "nationalists" and that Russia had a right to protect its citizens there.
"We believe that if we make a decision -- if I decide -- to use the armed forces, it will be legitimate [and] fully consistent with the general rules of international law," he said.
During a news conference Tuesday, Putin said there was a constitutional coup and power grab in Ukraine and Yanukovych, who fled to Russia, remains the legitimate president, ITAR-Tass reported.
"He did not give any illegal order," Putin said.
Putin said he would use military force as a last resort.
"If mayhem breaks out in eastern Ukraine and people ask for help, Russia reserves the right to react, but this is a last resort," Putin said during a news conference. "It's a humanitarian mission, we don't aspire to enslave anyone."
Also Tuesday, an adviser to Putin said authorities would advise the dumping of U.S. government bonds should Russian companies and individuals be targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine, RIA Novosti said.
Sergei Glazyev warned the United States would suffer if sanctions were imposed.
"The Americans are threatening Russia with sanctions and pulling the EU into a trade and economic war with Russia," Glazyev said. "Most of the sanctions against Russia will bring harm to the United States itself, because as far as trade relations with the United States go, we don't depend on them in any way."
U.S. Treasury Department data at the end of 2013 indicated Russian investments in U.S. government bonds was about $139 billion of the roughly $5.8 trillion in U.S. debt held in foreign hands.