Moscow, Feb 3 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday announced that Russia will suspend its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in a mirror response to the US’ decision.
“We will proceed as follows. We will come up with a tit-for-tat response. American partners have announced the suspension of their participation in the treaty, and we are suspending it as well,” Putin said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to a Kremlin transcript, Xinhua reported.
The US administration announced on Friday that the US is withdrawing from the INF Treaty with Russia within six months, starting from February 2.
Noting that the US has begun developing and manufacturing weapons, Shoigu proposed to develop new arms including ground-based complexes of hypersonic medium-range and shorter-range ballistic missiles. Shoigu’s proposal has Putin’s support.
“They announced that they (the US) are engaged in research and development work, and we will do the same,” Putin said.
The president requested more information on the execution of Russia’s state defence programmes, including the Dagger hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile, the Peresvet combat laser systems, the newest Avangard hypersonic missile defence system and the Sarmat missile.
He also noted that some countries are starting to deploy weapons in space, saying that it is necessary to come up with certain plans to counter this “possible threat.”
Despite the retaliatory measures, Russia will not be dragged into an arms race, Putin said.
“I want to draw your attention to the fact that we should not and will not be drawn into an expensive arms race,” he told the ministers.
The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the then Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.
Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the agreement in recent years amid increasing tensions.
In October, US President Donald Trump said Washington would pull out of the INF Treaty on account of Russia’s alleged breach of the agreement, a charge which Moscow has repeatedly denied.