Putin makes toughest remarks yet on potential new arms race with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin superimposed into a Russian Flag. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

Reuters reports that Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Russian parliament today included a warning to the US after the suspension of the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
by the Trump administration earlier this month. The day after the US announced its decision to withdraw from the treaty, the Kremlin responded in kind, saying Russia would focus on developing new missile technology but denied that Russia would “get involved in a costly arms race”, according to CNBC.

Putin warned in his speech to the Duma that, while Russia will not seek confrontation, any US deployment of missiles in countries near Russia would result in a resolute response. He warned that US lawmakers should consider the risk, saying, “It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing.”

Putin also said that Russia would target the United States, specifically US decision making centers, as well as the European countries which would house any US intermediate-range missiles.

If the United States were to stage missiles in neighboring countries, the flight time to Russia would be cut to 10 -12 minutes and the threat of being hit by a nuclear strike before being able to launch a response is being taken seriously by Moscow.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he said.

“These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.”


While Putin did not address the specifics of shortening launch times, options for doing so could include deploying missiles on submarines, such as Poseidon, an underwater drone Russia says is capable of carrying out a nuclear strike, or staging missiles on the ground in countries allied with Russia, according to Reuters.

In the state-of-the-nation speech, Putin alleged that the United States falsely accused Russia of violating the INF treaty in order to provide itself justification for withdrawing from the treaty, the AP reports. The withdrawal from the 1987 Cold War treaty frees up the US to develop new missile technology and to station missiles in Europe. The US says Russia’s SSC-8 missile violates the treaty, which bans short and intermediate range missiles.

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