Russia will be forced to respond in kind to the US’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
If European countries agree to have American missiles deployed in them, as was the case in the 1980s, they will “have to understand that they are putting their territory at risk of a response strike from Russia,” Putin remarked after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in the Kremlin.
“It isn’t our choice,” Putin emphasized, adding that Russia’s response would be “swift and effective”.
“I don’t understand why it’s necessary to put Europe in such a high level of danger. I don’t actually see any reasons for this,” Interfax cites Putin as saying.
The US believes that Russia is already violating the treaty from 1987 by including in its armament missile systems with a range between 500 and 5,500 km, directed at NATO’s European members.
Putin claims that Washington has no proof of this, and stressed that the accusations are only “a formal pretext for our partners withdrawing” from the treaty, which the US was already violating itself.
Russia’s response accusations against the US concern the anti-missile defense systems in Romania which use Aegis launch systems, Putin explained. The Russian military believes that the launchers can also be used for offensive missiles.
“The problem did not arise yesterday or even three days ago, when the US President announced it,” Putin continued.
“If you have been paying attention, US Congress has already included expenses for research and development of intermediate and short-range missiles,” he pointed out, adding that this work is clearly not being done only to put the research results “on the shelf”.
In 2001, the US unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, after which it deployed anti-missile defense systems in Poland and Romania. Now the US is breaking off from the INF Treaty, and the fate of the New START nuclear reduction treaty is “unclear”, Putin remarked.
“If all of this is disassembled, then nothing at all will remain in the sphere of arms control. Nothing but an arms race will remain,” he added.