9 Aug 2019 19:13

Moscow vows to take countermeasures if U.S. deploys missiles near Russian territory

MOSCOW. Aug 9 (Interfax) - Russia will take exhaustive countermeasures in case the United States deploys intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles near Russian borders, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

"Washington's withdrawal from the INF Treaty [the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] makes the prospect of the deployment of American nuclear missile systems of the relevant classes in various regions of the world realistic," Zakharova said at a news briefing on Friday.

"Certainly, we will have to take this negative factor into account in our military planning and, if necessary, respond to the emerging threats in practical terms, of which the Russian leadership has said," Zakharova said.

President Vladimir Putin instructed the Foreign Ministry and other agencies on August 5 to closely follow the U.S. steps toward the development, manufacturing, and deployment of ground-based intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, she said.

"In case the Americans carry out these procedures, Russia will take exhaustive countermeasures to ensure its own security," Zakharova said.

Putin had said earlier that Russia unilaterally committed not to deploy missiles that earlier fell within the scope of the INF Treaty in any regions until "analogous U.S. made weapons appear there."

"We call on Washington and its allies to exercise responsibility and join this moratorium, which would make military-political affairs more predictable," she said.

By withdrawing from the INF Treaty, "the Americans want to get rid of any restrictions, including international legal ones, that could hypothetically prevent them from attaining this goal," Zakharova said.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said openly while visiting Moscow in October 2018 that Washington was concerned about the presence of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles precisely in Asia, primarily in China, which dictated the need for the U.S. to equalize the balance of forces in the region, she said.

In addition, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said openly immediately after the termination of the INF Treaty that the Pentagon is interested in deploying such missiles in the Asia Pacific region, Zakharova said.