Putin: Russia to Make Tit for Tat Response against US Missiles Deployment in EU
By Staff, Agencies
Moscow will match any US move to deploy new nuclear missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday. In Washington, the US State Department dismissed Putin’s comments as “propaganda” designed to divert attention from what Washington alleges are Moscow’s violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Putin said Russia was not seeking confrontation and would not take the first step to deploy missiles in response to Washington’s decision this month to quit the landmark Cold War-era arms control treaty.
But in his toughest remarks yet on a potential new arms race, he said Russia’s reaction to any deployment would be resolute and that US policymakers, some of whom he accused of being obsessed with US exceptionalism, should calculate the risks before taking any steps.
“It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing,” Putin told Russia’s political elite to strong applause.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he said.
“These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.”
Washington said this month it was suspending its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty because of what it said were Moscow’s violations, starting the process of quitting it and untying its hands to develop new missiles.
Any US move to place new missiles in Europe would cut the time it took some US missiles to reach Moscow to 10-12 minutes, Putin said, something he called a serious threat. Such a scenario, if left unmatched, would open up the possibility of Russia being hit by a nuclear strike before its own missiles fired in response could reach US territory.
The Russian land-based missiles that currently target the United States are based on Russian territory. Therefore, flight time to major US population centers would be longer than for US missiles deployed in Europe.
Putin did not confirm how, technically, Russia would deploy missiles with a shorter strike time.
Possible options include deploying them on the soil of an ally near US territory, deploying faster missiles on submarines or using one of the hypersonic weapons Moscow says it has under development. In his speech Wednesday, Putin said a submarine capable of carrying a new underwater drone with nuclear strike capability, which is called Poseidon, would be launched this spring, and also spoke of the successful development of a new hypersonic missile called Tsirkon.
The INF Treaty banned Russia and the United States from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.
Its demise raises the prospect of a new arms race between Washington and Moscow, which denies flouting the treaty.
Putin responded to the US move by saying Russia would mirror Washington’s actions by suspending its own obligations and quitting the pact.
But the Russian leader made clear Wednesday that he was ready, reluctantly, to escalate if the US escalated and that Russia was continuing to actively develop weapons and missile systems to ensure it was well-prepared for such an eventuality.
Putin said Russia wanted good ties with the United States, but was ready with its defensive response if necessary. “We know how to do this and we will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the corresponding threats to us become a reality.”