Commenting on the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty during a speech to the Federal Assembly of the State Duma, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is ready to aim missiles at the US in the event of a threat.
According to Putin, Russia will aim its weapons not only against the European countries where the US deploys its intermediate and short-range missiles, but also against the US itself in the event of a threat.
“If they really are produced and shipped to the European continent, and the US does have such plans, at least we haven’t heard any statements to the contrary, then it will severely exacerbate the situation in the area of international security and create serious threats for Russia, since the flight time to Moscow for certain classes of these missiles is 10-12 minutes. And this is an extremely serious threat to us,” Putin said.
In such a scenario, Russia will take “mirror and asymmetric action”.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons that could be used not only with respect to the territories from which such a threat will come to us, but also the territories where the centers for making decisions concerning the use of the missile systems that threaten us are located,” Putin remarked.
“Let them consider the range and speed of our prospective weapons systems. All we ask is for this: let them first consider, and only afterwards make decisions that could create additional serious threats to our country, and, of course, lead to response measures from Russia,” he said.
Putin did, however, say that Russia would like amicable relations with the US.
Washington and NATO believe that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by developing and testing the 9M729 missile, which can fly more than 500 km. The Russian military denies that the missile is capable of exceeding the 500 km limit. In December 2018, the US threatened to withdraw from the agreement unless Russia returned to compliance with the treaty within 60 days. Two months later, Washington officially suspended its participation in the INF Treaty.
The following day, Putin announced Moscow’s “mirror response” and instructed the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry to stop attempting to initiate any new disarmament negotiations.
The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by Soviet Union leader Mihkail Gorbachev and then US President Ronald Reagan. Intermediate and short range missiles constitute the greatest threat to the world, because they can reach their targets in a matter of minutes, and do not give the enemy any time to prepare for the attack or to repel it.