MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. By accusing Russia of violating international agreements through developing new weapons, the US may seek to justify its possible withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Friday.
"Nothing else could be expected from the United States - only groundless accusations aimed at justifying its own course for building up military potential and violating the existing agreements," he said. "The US State Department’s statement about America’s intention to modernize its nuclear forces in order to achieve military supremacy is just another proof of that," Slutsky added. According to him, "anti-Russian campaign concerning the INF Treaty did not start yesterday." "It is possible that such aggressive rhetoric only serves as a guise for Washington’s possible withdrawal from the INF Treaty, as it has already pulled out of the anti-ballistic missile defense agreement," the senior Russian lawmaker pointed out.
He added that "the development of new weapons in Russia is a fair response to the US policy of deploying missile defenses near our borders, which President Vladimir Putin pointed to in his yesterday’s address." "But all our actions aimed at strengthening Russia’s defense capabilities are always in line with our international obligations, they do not run counter to disarmament agreements and are aimed at preserving global peace and stability," Slutsky stressed.
Russian president’s address, US response
In his Thursday’s address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had developed and tested new strategic weapons in response to Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the missile defense agreement and the deployment of missile defenses both on the US territory and in other countries.
The new weapons particularly include the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, the Kinzhal hypersonic complex, a nuclear cruise missile, as well as an underwater drone capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons.
At the same time, the head of state stressed that Russia’s growing military capabilities were a strong guarantee of global peace, while all activities aimed at strengthening the country’s defense capacity were in line with the current arms control agreements.
US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert said later that the United States was concerned over Putin’s statements about new weapons developments. She also said those statements confirmed that Moscow was violating its obligations under international agreements, including the INF Treaty. Nauert announced that the US was planning to modernize its nuclear arsenal.