Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that Russia will be developing new missiles that were previously banned under the now-expired Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
While speaking at an economic conference in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Thursday, Putin said Russia would develop the missiles, but insisted they would not be deployed unless the United States first deployed, CNBC reported.
“We said outright that we will not deploy (a cruise missile) after the Americans tested such a missile,” Putin said, according to a translation obtained by CNBC.
“We will make such missiles, of course, but we will not deploy them in the regions where no ground-based missile systems of this class manufactured by the United States have emerged,” he added.
Putin’s remarks referenced the U.S. test launch of a ground-based cruise missile on Aug. 18, which traveled more than 500 kilometers.
NATO explains in an article on the former treaty, “Under the INF Treaty, the United States and Russia cannot possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometres, or possess or produce launchers of such missiles.”
Days after the launch, Russia had called it “regrettable” and “provocative.” Putin also referred to the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty as “counter-productive” and destructive to global arms control, an opinion he reiterated at the conference on Thursday.
Putin also expressed opposition to the U.S. planning to deploy ground-based missile systems to South Korea and Japan.
“This actually makes us quite sad, and it is also a reason for certain concerns for us,” Putin said.
“If they are deployed in Japan or South Korea, we understand that this is going to be done under the pretext of preventing the threat from North Korea but for us it is going to pose a significant problem, a very serious one because these missile systems are going to be able to cover a large part of the Russian territory.”
Putin has repeatedly vowed not to deploy new missiles if the U.S. did not first deploy them.
The U.S. had announced its withdrawal from the INF Treaty in February, citing Russia’s continued violations of the treaty and failure to return to compliance despite warnings given.
The decision took effect on Aug. 2, and was marked by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s remarks that supported the U.S. for its withdrawal and criticized Russia for not fulfilling its obligations, according to a NATO statement.
“We regret that Russia showed no willingness and took no steps to comply with its international obligations,” Stoltenberg said, adding that “no international agreement is effective if it is only respected by one side. Russia bears the sole responsibility for the demise of the Treaty.”