Moscow, Feb 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he would deploy missiles capable of striking the US if Washington decides to station missiles in European nations within striking distance of Russia.
Giving his annual address to the Parliament, Putin said he was not looking for a confrontation with the US and nor would his country be the first to deploy missiles once Donald Trump’s administration completes the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
But he warned of tit-for-tat measures in the case of an escalation by Washington, Efe news reported.
“Russia would be obliged to manufacture and station weaponry that could not only be used against territories where the direct threat comes from but also decision-making centres,” Putin told lawmakers. “We know how to do it and we would put these plans into effect as soon as such a threat became a reality,” he added.
Russia announced it would withdraw from the INF at the beginning of February following Washington’s unilateral decision to break away from the pact, a process that is set to be completed in six months’ time. Either country can backtrack during that period.
Washington and Moscow both accuse each other of breaching the agreement.
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.
Putin previously said that Russia’s response to the US withdrawal would be “symmetrical” but that nevertheless, Moscow would still refrain from deploying weapons with a range between 500 km and 5,500 km in European Russia and other global regions, so long Washington also agreed not to.
The Russian President questioned Washington’s justifications for pulling out of the treaty. “Our US partners should have been honest about it instead of using thought-up accusations to justify their unilateral exit from the treaty,” he said.
“They should have done it the same way they quit the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2004 when they simply pulled out, openly and honestly.”