Putin: If US de­vel­ops banned mis­siles, so will Rus­sia

El Dorado News-Times - - Viewpoint -

MOSCOW (AP) — 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.

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 (INF) 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 INF, 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.

When signed in 1987, the INF treaty was lauded as a ma­jor safe­guard for global se­cu­rity since they 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.

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 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.

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