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Putin cautions if threatened, Russia could target US missiles ‘hosts’ and America as well

Moscow won’t continue knocking on Washington’s closed door for disarmament discussions, Vladimir Putin stressed

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. Russia will consider tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures if the United States deploys intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles to Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday.

"I’ve already said and I want to repeat - and this is vital - to repeat this specifically, 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 does have these plans, anyway, we haven’t heard other statements, this will sharply deteriorate international security and create serious threats to Russia since it takes up to 10-12 minutes for certain types of these missiles to fly to Moscow. This is a very serious danger to 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," Putin said. 

Russia-US relations 

Moscow won’t continue knocking on Washington’s closed door on disarmament discussions, Vladimir Putin pointed out.

"We are ready for talks on disarmament issue [with the United States] but we won’t knock on a closed door anymore," Putin said. "We will wait until our partners are ripe and acknowledge the need for a dialogue on this issue on an equal basis."

The Russian leader noted that Russia would continue developing its Armed Forces, the intensity and quality of combat training, including taking into account the experience of the anti-terrorism operation in Syria. "Almost all commanders of large units of the Ground Forces, special operations forces and military police, support units, the crews of warships, army and tactical, strategic and military-transport aviation received it [experience]," Putin said.

"We need peace and the entire effort on beefing up our defensive capacity will pursue just one goal, that is, ensuring the security of our country and its citizens so that no one could even think about aggression against Russia or even try to use methods of military pressure against our country," he stressed.

Tit-for-tat measures 

Moscow will provide an immediate response if any threat against it becomes realistic and will point weapons not only against those countries where Washington will deploy its armaments, but against the United States itself, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated.

"Even now, I will say it directly and explicitly so that no one could reproach us about anything and so that everyone could understand what we are talking about here. Russia will be forced to create and deploy those types of weapons, which could be used not only against those regions from where we will face a direct threat, but also against those regions, hosting the centers, where decisions are taken on using those missile systems threatening us," said Putin, when commenting on the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The president stressed that Russia’s weapons, based on their tactical and technical characteristics and flight time to the above-mentioned control centers, would mirror those threats that will be directed against Russia, Putin emphasized. "We know how to do this and we will fulfill these plans immediately as soon as these [threats] become real for us," he stressed.

According to Putin, there is no need in additional and irresponsible deterioration in international environment today. "We don’t want this. What I would like to add here, US colleagues have already tried to get absolute military advantage using global anti-missile system. They should stop these illusions. Our answer will be always effective," he said.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Washington would suspend its liabilities under the INF Treaty starting February 2 and would quit it within six months if Russia did not come into compliance with the agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded in kind, saying that Moscow would suspend the Cold War-era treaty. Moreover, he told the ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, underscoring that the United States should become "mature enough" for equal and meaningful dialogue.

The INF, or the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. In 1992, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the treaty became multilateral with the former Soviet republics - Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine - as successors. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).