An arms race may be imminent between Washington and Moscow with the death of Cold-war era arms control treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his annual presidential address to the legislature Wednesday, criticized the United States for ignoring the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by deploying missile launchers in Romania and Poland.
"First it started developing and using intermediate-range missiles it deceitfully called targets for missile defenses. Then it began to deploy the Mk-41 launchers in Europe, capable of using intermediate range cruise missiles Tomahawk for combat purposes," he said.
"By doing all this the United States blatantly ignored the provisions contained in articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty."
Russia will respond to any U.S. deployment of short or intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe by targeting not only the countries where they are stationed but the United States itself, Putin warned.
He also said that the U.S. should calculate the flight range and velocity of Russian weapons before taking steps that can pose a threat to Russia.
"This is certainly their right to think this way. But can they make the calculations? Undoubtedly they can," Putin said. "So let them calculate the range and speed of our advanced weapon systems."
"This is the only thing we ask to do — make the calculations first before passing decisions that may pose additional serious threats to our country and will certainly entail Russia’s counter-measures," Putin said.
However, the president said that Russia was not seeking confrontation and would not take the first step to deploy missiles in response to Washington’s decision this month to quit a landmark Cold War-era arms control treaty.
"We are not interested in confrontation and do not want it, moreover with such a global power as the United States," he said. "However, it seems that our partners take no notice how rapidly the world is changing and where it is heading. They carry on with their destructive and obviously erroneous policy."
But in case of a threat, “Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” the president said.
Alleging Russian violations, Washington said this month it was suspending its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and starting the process of quitting it, untying their hands to develop new missiles.
The pact banned either side from stationing short and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe and its demise raises the prospect of a new arms race between Washington and Moscow.