Russia will retaliate if threatened by US: Putin

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reinforced that Moscow would deploy “tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures” if the US stationed missiles in Europe.

“I’ve already said and I want to repeat, and this is vital, I repeat this especially, that Russia is not planning to be the first to deploy these missiles to Europe. If they are indeed manufactured and sent to the European continent, and the US has these plans…this will sharply deteriorate the situation in international security and create serious threats for Russia as it takes up to 10-12 minutes for certain types of these missiles to fly to Moscow,” Putin said in his State of the Nation address on February 20.

“This is a very serious threat for us. In this case, we will be forced, and I want to stress this, we will be forced to envisage tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures,” TASS further quoted Putin as saying.

The Russian leader’s statement comes in the wake of the US suspension of obligations towards the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty – a move which was mirrored by Russia. The Cold War-era treaty was aimed at curbing the arms race between the USSR and the United States and was signed by former US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

The latest developments on the INF front have led to renewed fears of an arms race between Russia and the United States. The accord bans ground-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. The Trump administration announced last October that, because of Russian violations dating back several years, it was planning to pull the United States from the pact.