Putin Warns Russia Will Retaliate If US Cancels Nuclear Missile Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin at Schloss Meseberh palace, Germany
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the U.S. that there could be severe consequences if the United States decides to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

According to Reuters, Russian publications are reporting that Putin has been discussing the possible ways in which Russia can retaliate, should the situation escalate into a U.S. withdrawal. He has been discussing options for the Russian reaction with his top Russian Defense Ministry officials and has stated that the Kremlin is prepared to discuss the INF treaty with Donald Trump’s administration in Washington.

The treaty dates back to the Cold War era, where it essentially got rid of all land-based nuclear missiles based in Europe. But in the past few years, with the tensions between Europe and Russia steadily escalating, the treaty has come into question of late. Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and their involvement in Eastern Ukraine since 2014 has only served to add copious amounts of fuel to the fire.

In the meantime, Trump and his administration have already accused Putin and Russia of violating their end of the bargain in the treaty, although the Russian president has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The U.S. response to Russia’s supposed misdemeanors is a threat to pull out of the treaty entirely. NATO and Russian envoys discussed the matter at the end of October, and on that occasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg pleaded with Moscow to comply with the treaty immediately.

He claimed that Russia’s “development of the land-based, intermediate-range SSC-8 cruise missile posed a serious risk to strategic stability.”

Leaders across Europe are concerned that if the treaty should dissolve, it could lead to another arms race. According to RT, Putin has no interest in another arms race between the dominant western and eastern powers, but is weighing up his options for the best way to retaliate should it come down to it. In a statement made in Sochi, he laid the responsibility of the continued honoring of the treaty up to the U.S.

“Now, we have hypersonic weapons capable of penetrating any missile defense,” Putin said, adding that the country will not “allow itself to be dragged” into another arms race should the U.S. decide to withdraw.

Additionally, Putin called for “common sense” to prevail, and expressed hopes that the U.S. “will continue a dialog with Russia in the fields of strategic stability and collective security on the basis of mutual responsibility.”