Vladimir Putin has warned of a new arms race, saying that if the US starts developing banned intermediate-range missiles, so will Moscow.
The Russian President said the Kremlin will respond in kind if America walks out of a key Cold War-era arms treaty.
It come after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days, citing Russian ‘cheating.’ Russia has denied that it has been violating the treaty.
President Donald Trump earlier this year announced his decision to withdraw from the INF, which has been described as a cornerstone of global security, accusing Russia and China – which is not a signatory to the treaty – of violating it.
Vladimir Putin (pictured today) has warned of a new arms race, saying that if the US starts developing banned mid-range missiles, so will Moscow
Putin said on Wednesday that the US decision to ditch the INF means Washington has decided the US ‘has to have these weapons’. He said of Moscow’s response: ‘We will do the same.
The US shared intelligence with Nato allies that it says shows Russia’s new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. Russia has denied the accusations.
The bilateral treaty between Washington and Moscow banned all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 310-3,410 miles. Russia says the range of the new system does not exceed 310 miles.
Mr Putin accused Washington of making up excuses for pulling out of the pact, saying the US first made up its mind to walk out and only then ‘started to look for the reasons why they should do it’.
‘It seems that our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that the US has to have this type of weapons,’ he said in televised remarks. ‘What would be our response? A very simple one: in that case, we will do the same.’
Speaking at a briefing of foreign military attaches earlier, General Valery Gerasimov, chief of staff of the Russian military, warned of a Russian response and said countries that host US intermediate-range missiles would become immediate targets.
It come after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 60 days, citing Russian ‘cheating’
When signed in 1987, the INF treaty was lauded as a major safeguard for global security as it eliminated shorter-range missiles that take just a few minutes to reach their targets.
The removal of such weapons would in theory allow more time for decision-making in case of a warning of a missile attack.
US ally Germany, which has been keen to preserve the treaty, called on Russia to try to save it.
‘The INF treaty is of great significance for security in Europe,’ government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in Berlin.
‘The German government welcomes the fact that the American government is giving its preservation another chance,’ she added, referring to the 60-day deadline. She also noted that the issue came up in a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Trump in Argentina on Saturday.
‘It is now up to Russia to avert the end of the treaty,’ Ms Demmer said.