Will react accordingly if INF suspended: Putin

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the United States of America on Wednesday and stated that Moscow is against the suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) while underscoring that Russia will “react accordingly” if the treaty is severed.

His comments come a day after US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the US would withdraw from the agreement within 60 days if Russia did not adhere with the Cold War-era accord.

Putin mentioned that the US had made the decision “long” before the public announcement and had “shuffled the blame onto” Russia.

“This means that the decision has long been made, but it has been made sneakily. They thought we wouldn’t notice this, but this is already in the Pentagon’s budget – the creation of these missiles. But only after did they announce publicly that they were leaving,” he said, according to Sputnik.

“As the next step, they started to think whom they could shuffle the blame onto. Well, to say ‘Russia is to blame’ is the easiest and the most habitual thing for an ordinary Western person. This is not true, we are against the destruction of the treaty, but if it happens, we will react accordingly,” the Russian President remarked.

He also stated that Moscow would develop intermediate and short-range missiles if the US were to do so – Previously, the INF restrained both the countries from developing missiles of such capability to limit the arms race after the cold war period.

Putin further stated, “This is true. Many other countries, perhaps, already a dozen countries, are producing such weapons, while Russia and the United States have restrained themselves bilaterally. I believe our US partners think that now the situation has changed to such an extent that the United States should have such weapons as well. What answer will we provide? A simple one: then we’ll do it as well.”

He also opined that the US’ decision to blame Russia is “ill-considered”, and referred to the US pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (another cold war era agreement) in 2002.

“And they still had the audacity, they have withdrawn from the treaty calmly. without referring to anything. They just pulled out from the treaty and called it a day. In fact, this is exactly what is happening now, but now they reflect on whom they could shuffle the blame onto for this step, which I believe is ill-considered,” Putin said.

The INF agreement was a turning point in the Cold War as it led to the elimination of over 2,600 missiles and ended the long-standing nuclear stand-off between East and West Europe.

US President Donald Trump’s announcement of terminating the treaty in October this year had raised concerns of a revival of Cold War tensions, before Pompeo’s ultimatum for Russia on December 4.