A day after President Trump announced that the United States pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the development of new medium-range missiles, ABC News reports. Yesterday, Trump said that the U.S. was exiting the treaty in response to alleged Russian violations, which Russia has denied.
Putin revealed the development of the new weapons in a televised meeting. He also ordered that his defense ministers begin converting sea-based cruise missiles for ground use, which is also banned under the treaty. In any case, the Russian president indicated that although they are making changes in response to American withdrawal from the treaty, they will not deploy unless the U.S. does.
“We start from the position that Russia will not deploy, if these missiles appear, neither in Europe nor other regions of the world, weapons of intermediate range so long as in the corresponding regions of the world similar weapons of American production do not appear,” he said.
The proportionate escalation is reminiscent of the Cold War standoff between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
“Our response will be symmetrical,” Putin said. “Our American partners have stated about suspending their participation in the Treaty, and we are suspending our’s [sic]. They have stated that they are doing research and research and development, and we will do the same.”
In announcing the U.S.’ withdrawal from the treaty yesterday, Trump put further pressure on Russia, calling for the destruction of non-compliant Russian weapons.
Trump in a statement Friday indicated that the U.S. would be moving forward with an evaluation of military response options and would plan in concert with NATO and other allies to ensure that Russia would gain no military advantage from its breach of the treaty.
Russia has announced it is suspending participation in the INF nuclear missile treaty — one day after the US declared it would pull out of the agreement unless Moscow complies with its terms within 180 days. https://t.co/1bP1p4sm0Y pic.twitter.com/3xBvZX6kVO— CNN (@CNN) February 2, 2019
Congressional Democrats have begun to speak out against the escalation. Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the president’s posture in the exchange, saying that the Trump administration “lacked a coherent strategy” to address the Russian threat, which would pose multiple threats to not only the United States but also to allies in Europe and elsewhere.
According to The Inquisitr, the INF treaty was initially signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibiting both the U.S. and Russia from developing certain missiles, in an effort to reduce the imminent fear of a nuclear attack. The treaty banned ground-based missiles with a range between 310 and 3,100 miles. The agreement was largely credited with the de-escalation of tensions that would ultimately open the door to a break in the Cold War.