Asked a question about US President Donald Trump’s talk about withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) the Russian President said it was an issue of concern for Europe, given that if new US missiles are placed on the continent, Russia will be required to make a mirror response, targeting such missile sites, sputniknews.com reports.
“If the US withdraws from the INF Treaty, what are they going to do with the new missiles? If they are delivered to Europe and place them there, we will have to make a mirroring response. So if they do this, they must realize that their territory is going to be under the threat of an equal counter-strike. I’m not sure that there needs to be this kind of escalation in Europe. I see no reason for that, and I repeat, this is not our choice. It is not something we wish for,” Putin said.
“So in answer directly to your question, yes, we will respond; we have a response, and it will be swift and effective,” he added.
In any case, Putin said that the US Congress seemed to have prepared for new spending on intermediate-range missiles even before President Trump’s announcement, pointing out that the budget for this purpose had been agreed upon beforehand.
Furthermore, the US has already violated the INF Treaty by placing the Aegis system in Romania, according to the Russian president, since such systems could be easily be used to launch offensive missiles. Such weapons are no different to intermediate range ballistic missiles in their essence, Putin noted.
Putin also warned that if the New START Treaty is not renewed, there will be nothing left of arms control between Moscow and Washington, given that the US has already left the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and is now talking about leaving the INF. “If [New] Start is eliminated, nothing will remain in the area of arms control. If that happens, we will face a very worrying situation,” he said.
Emphasizing that Russia remains ready to work with its US partners, Putin noted that he plans to discuss these issues with his upcoming meeting with President Trump on November 11 in Paris.