MOSCOW, August 23. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has given instructions to analyze the threat level in the wake of the US test of a new cruise missile modification and take measures for preparing a symmetric response, the Kremlin’s press office reported on Friday.
The Russian leader stated this at a meeting with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council, which focused on this issue.
"Considering the newly emerging circumstances, I instruct the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and other specialized agencies to analyze the level of the threat, which the above-mentioned US moves are creating for our country, and take comprehensive measures for preparing a symmetric response," the Russian leader said.
At the same time, "Russia is still open for an equitable and constructive dialogue with the United States of America for restoring trust and strengthening international security," Putin stressed.
The new missile test conducted by the US and Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty were the links in a chain of pre-planned events, according to Putin.
"It is noteworthy that the tests of a missile with characteristics prohibited under the treaty were conducted just 16 days after the completion of the procedure of denouncing that treaty initiated by Washington," he said. "Apparently, that was not an improvisation but another link in a chain of pre-planned actions."
Putin also said that Moscow will not be drawn into the expensive arms race despite the US’ actions.
"As you know we have never wanted, do not want and will not be drawn into the expensive arms race that is devastating for our economy," he said.
By its defense spending, "Russia holds quite a modest 7th place in the world after the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France and Japan," the Russian leader said.
"Our work to develop the most advanced weapon systems that are truly unrivaled in the world was prompted and, it can be said, was provoked by the unilateral pullout of the United States of America from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," the Russian leader noted.
"We were simply forced and undoubtedly obliged to ensure the security of our people and our country. We are doing this now and we will undoubtedly be doing this in the future," Putin stressed.
Putin believes that the US staged a propaganda campaign accusing Russia of violating provisions of the INF Treaty in order to cover up its own plans to withdraw from the agreement.
"Instead of trying to straight out this unacceptable situation and getting back to the observance of the Treaty, the Americans staged a propaganda campaign on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with the Treaty’s provisions," Putin said.
"It is now obvious to everyone that the main aim of this campaign was to cover up Washington’s work, which was in violation of the Treaty and initially envisaged the withdrawal from this agreement," the Russian president added.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier on Thursday that Putin had held an ad hoc meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council, centering on the INF Treaty in the context of Washington’s test launch of the Tomahawk cruise missile’s latest modification.
US cruise missile test
The US Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday that on August 18 the US "conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California." "The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," the Pentagon added.
On August 2, Washington formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987. It applied to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.
Following Washington’s withdrawal, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Treaty had been terminated on the United States’ initiative.