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Russia warns US global deployment of missiles will meet response

The US Air Force tests a medium-range ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the US, on December 12, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has warned the United States against its controversial plan to deploy land-based missiles in various countries around the world, saying the move would be met with an immediate response from Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the planned “deployment of American land-based short- and intermediate-range missiles globally seriously undermines regional and global security and will provoke a new dangerous phase of the arms race.”

It suggested that strategic nuclear missiles could be deployed in response.

“Russia cannot ignore appearance of more missile threats for its territory, which will be seen as strategic for us,” the Russian ministry said. “This will require an immediate reaction, irrespective of what missiles will be deployed, nuclear or not.”

The remarks were made on the first anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, which had banned land-based missiles with a range of between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Moscow warned at the time that the US’s withdrawal would provoke another arms race among world powers.

Immediately after the withdrawal, the US said it was planning to place ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in Asia. It also asserted last month that the Pentagon was moving forward with plans to acquire ground-launched missiles that fly distances that had been banned under the INF.

The Russian Foreign Ministry further said that Moscow “remains open to equal and constructive work to restore trust and strengthen international security and strategic stability.”

“We are hoping for a similar interest and responsibility from the US side,” it added.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) accord, which expires in February 2021, is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington that puts a limit on the number of strategic nuclear warheads each country can have.

The US and Russia signed the New START accord in 2010 and agreed to reduce the number of strategic nuclear missiles by half and restrict the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

The New START can be extended for another five years by mutual agreement.

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