Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe, threatening to retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with his own new weaponry.
Delivering a state of the nation address, Putin said the US abandoned a key arms control pact – the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty – to free its hands to build new missiles and tried to shift the blame for the move on Russia.
Many analysts say abandoning the treaty effectively signalled the start of a new arms race.
The longtime Russian leader warned Washington against deploying any new missiles in Europe following the collapse of the key Cold War-era treaty, saying Moscow would consider it a “serious threat”.
“I’m saying this clearly and openly, Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used… against the decision-making centres that are behind the missile systems which threaten us,” Putin said.
“The capability of such weapons, including the time to reach those centres, will be equivalent to the threats against Russia.”
He did not say what specific new weapons Moscow could deploy, but he reported quick progress on an array of new systems presented a year ago.
The INF deal was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.