Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a tit-for-tat response to a U.S. missile test, the first of its kind since the dissolution of a Cold War-era arms-control treaty earlier this month.
“We have never wanted, do not want, and will not be drawn into a costly, economically destructive arms race,” Putin said in remarks to his Security Council. “That said, in the light of unfolding circumstances, I am ordering the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and other appropriate agencies to analyze the threat to our country posed by U.S. actions, and to take exhaustive measures to prepare a reciprocal response.”
The U.S. on August 2 officially ended its participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned both countries from employing land-based missiles with a range of 310 to 3,400 miles, citing what it said were Russian violations of the treaty. The Pentagon announced Monday that it had tested a conventional ground-launched cruise missile which flew over 310 miles and hit its intended target.
“All this leaves no doubts that the real intention of the United States was to . . . untie its hands to deploy previously banned missiles in different regions of the world,” said Putin.
The Russian president added that the Kremlin remains open to negotiations with the U.S.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this month that the U.S. would “fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles” and that he supports placing such missiles in Asia in the near future.
“Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal to deal with the United States,” Esper said. “Right now Russia has possibly nuclear-tipped . . . INF-range cruise missiles facing toward Europe, and that’s not a good thing.”