Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday the Kremlin would retaliate if the United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Russian news agencies reported.
Putin discussed possible Russian retaliation with top Russian Defence Ministry officials and added that the Kremlin was ready to discuss the INF treaty with Washington.
The Cold War-era treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles, has come into question against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the West and Russia, most notably over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and role in eastern Ukraine.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has accused Russia of non-compliance with the 31-year-old missile accord and warned it will pull out of the deal as a result.
US President Donald Trump delivers a statement about missile strikes on a Syrian airfield in West Palm Beach, Florida,
Russia denies violating the pact and has called Trump’s decision to quit the treaty, which eliminated both countries’ land-based short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe, dangerous.
Since then, both the US and Russia have accused each other of violating the treaty on a number of occasions.
NATO and Russian envoy addressed the dispute during rare talks on October 31, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urging Moscow to make quick changes to comply in full with the treaty.
He said Russia’s development of the land-based, intermediate-range SSC-8 cruise missile posed “a serious risk to strategic stability.”
European leaders worry any collapse of the INF treaty could lead to a new, destabilizing arms race.