Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned the United States that if it walks out of a key arms treaty and starts developing the type of missiles banned by it, Russia will do the same.
The U.S President Donald Trump, earlier this year had announced his decision to withdraw from the INF, accusing Russia and China – which is not a signatory to the treaty – of violating it.
The U.S. recently released intelligence evidence with its NATO allies that shows that Russia’s new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. Meanwhile, Russia denied all the accusations.
Putin’s challenging and questioning remarks to Russian news agencies on Wednesday surfaced a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting that Washington will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days.
— The Straits Times (@STcom) December 5, 2018
The United States hence delivered Russia with a 60-day ultimatum on Tuesday to come clean about what Washington says is a violation of the 1987 nuclear arms control treaty, saying it (U.S) would be forced to start a six-month process of withdrawal if nothing changes.
“It seems that our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that the U.S. has to have this type of weapons,” said President Putin in televised remarks. “What would be our response? A very simple one: in that case, we will do the same.”
U.S. ally Germany, which has been keen to preserve the treaty, called on Russia to try to save it while it still has the time.
“The INF treaty is of great significance for security in Europe,” government spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, Germany said in Berlin on Wednesday. “The German government welcomes the fact that the American government is giving its preservation another chance,” she added, referring to the 60-day deadline. She also noted that the issue came up in a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Trump in Argentina on Saturday. “It is now up to Russia to avert the end of the treaty,” Demmer said.