Russia will be forced to act in response if the US deplyoes INF-banned munitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on August 5, noting that the US decision to withdraw from the INF creates risks of “unrestricted” arms race.
“The unilateral withdrawal from the INF treaty by the US, destruction of one of the basic documents on arms control, based on an imaginary pretext, has seriously complicated the situation in the world, [and] created fundamental risks for everyone,” Putin said.
Putin added that the the decision to ditch the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty will hark back to other accords on strategic nuclear weaponry and non-proliferation. He further warned that if the system crumbles, it will give way to an arms race and world-wide “chaos without any rules, restrictions, and laws.”
According to the president, Russia will not rush to develop land-based, intermediate-range missiles and will only act if the US proceeds with actually designing this weaponry.
“If we receive reliable information that the U.S. has completed the development and launched production of the relevant systems, Russia will have to engage in full-scale development of similar missiles,” Putin said.
He said that sea- and air-based systems, which Russia already has, are capable of countering all the potential threats that might arise from deployment of the INF-prohibited weaponry by the US. Putin mentioned air-deployed Kh-101 strategic cruise missile, hypersonic Kinzhal, sea-based Kalibr and hypersonic Zircon missiles among such weaponry.
During a breefing on August 5, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said that Moscow will take into account the deployment of US missile launchers to Japan.
“The MK-41 launching systems that are likely to be deployed to Japan sooner or later can also be used for launching intermediate-range cruise missiles,” he said. “This is why once such systems are deployed to Japan, we will take them into consideration.”
The top diplomat revealed that Russia was in dialogue with Japan on who “will control these systems” and what the Japanese government’s role would be.
“All this is subject to consultations and not to a public analysis,” he said, noting that as far as security issues were concerned.
Ryabkov emphasized that there was a need to be guided by facts rather than statements about intentions and plans.
Earlier, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the US seeks to deploy an intermediate range conventional missile in the Pacific region within months. Besides this, Esper said that the US will “fully pursue” the development of new types of ground-based missiles.
This caused a serious concern in China.
On August 6, Director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s arms control department Fu Cong told press that Beijing will move to counter Washington’s potential deployment of intermediate ground-launched missiles in Asia.
The diplomat noted that the US plans “will severely undermine global strategic balance and stability” as well as “threaten peace and security” in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese side called on Washington to “exercise restraint and stop taking actions that undermine the security interests of other countries.”
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