A warn­ing on mis­sile treaty

Will build them if you do, Putin says

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page - COMPILED BY DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE RE­PORTS In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Nataliya Vasi­lyeva and Geir Moul­son of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by Stepan Kravchenko of Bloomberg News.

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro (left) ar­rives Wed­nes­day for a meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin out­side Moscow. In re­marks to Rus­sian news agen­cies, Putin warned that Rus­sia will fol­low suit if Wash­ing­ton ex­its the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty and starts de­vel­op­ing mis­siles banned un­der the ac­cord. His threat came a day af­ter Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo at a NATO gath­er­ing ac­cused Rus­sia of treaty “cheat­ing” by de­vel­op­ing a new cruise mis­sile.

MOSCOW — 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 the agree­ment, Rus­sia will do the same.

Putin’s re­marks to Rus­sian news agen­cies on Wed­nes­day came 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 in 60 days, cit­ing Rus­sian “cheat­ing.”

The U.S. has shared in­tel­li­gence ev­i­dence with its NATO al­lies that it says 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. Rus­sia has de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ear­lier this year an­nounced his de­ci­sion to with­draw from the treaty, ac­cus­ing Rus­sia and China — which is not a sig­na­tory to the treaty — of vi­o­lat­ing it.

Putin on Wed­nes­day ac­cused the United States of mak­ing up ex­cuses for pulling out of the pact, say­ing that the U.S. first made up its mind to walk out of it and only then “started to look for the rea­sons why they should do it.”

“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,” he said in tele­vised re­marks. “What would be our re­sponse? A very sim­ple one: In that case, we will do the same.”

Speak­ing at a brief­ing of for­eign mil­i­tary at­taches ear­lier, Gen. Valery Gerasi­mov, chief of staff of the Rus­sian mil­i­tary, warned of a Rus­sian re­sponse and said that it would be the coun­tries that host U.S. in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles that would be­come im­me­di­ate tar­gets for Rus­sia.

“If the [In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty] is de­stroyed, we won’t leave it with­out a re­sponse,” he said, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial tran­script. “You as mil­i­tary pro­fes­sion­als must un­der­stand that the tar­get for Rus­sian re­tal­i­a­tion won’t be U.S. ter­ri­tory but the coun­tries where the in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles are de­ployed.”

When signed in 1987, the treaty was lauded as a ma­jor safe­guard for global se­cu­rity since it elim­i­nated shorter-range mis­siles that take just a few min­utes to reach their tar­gets. The re­moval of such desta­bi­liz­ing weapons would in the­ory al­low more time for de­ci­sion-mak­ing in case of a warn­ing of a mis­sile at­tack.

The U.S. has said it has no plans to de­ploy land-based nu­clear mis­siles in Europe once it pulls out of the treaty.

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 [treaty] is of great sig­nif­i­cance for se­cu­rity in Europe,” gov­ern­ment spokesman Ul­rike Dem­mer said Wed­nes­day in Ber­lin. “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 Satur­day be­tween Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Trump in Ar­gentina.

“It is now up to Rus­sia to avert the end of the treaty,” Dem­mer said.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, the Rus­sian De­fense Min­istry said it’s de­ployed laser weapons, one of sev­eral sys­tems Putin touted as a new gen­er­a­tion of ar­ma­ments dur­ing his an­nual ad­dress in March.

The Peresvet laser was de­ployed by the army on Satur­day, the min­istry said in an emailed state­ment.

Putin in March de­scribed the new arms as Rus­sia’s re­sponse to the U.S. de­ci­sion in 2002 to pull out of the Anti-Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Treaty and de­velop its global de­fense shield.

AP/MAXIM SHEME­TOV

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