Putin Warns U.S. of New Arms Race After Nuclear Deal’s Collapse
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Putin Warns U.S. of New Arms Race After Nuclear Deal’s Collapse

(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the U.S. to resume nuclear talks to safeguard strategic stability, as he blamed the Trump administration for the collapse of a key missile treaty.

The demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty last week has “created fundamental risks for everyone,” Putin said Monday in a Kremlin statement. He urged a return to “common sense” in international security policy, warning that the loss of the accord may spark a new arms race.

“The U.S. simply made null and void many years of effort to reduce the likelihood of a large-scale military conflict, including with the use of nuclear weapons,” Putin said. If the U.S. begins production of missiles that would have been banned by the INF treaty, “Russia will be forced to begin full-scale development of similar missiles,” though it would deploy them only in regions where the U.S. had already done so, he said.

The U.S. withdrawal from the treaty took effect on Friday, after President Donald Trump gave six months’ notice in February and accused Russia of violating the Cold War-era agreement by deploying a missile that breached its terms. Putin rejected the charge and responded by pulling Russia out of the accord last month. The U.S. is planning to conduct tests on new missile technology that would have been banned under the INF treaty, though it will be a conventional weapon and not a nuclear one, according to senior administration officials.

Strategic Arsenals

The deal between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union eliminated 2,692 short- and medium-range land-based missiles from their inventories by 1991. The only nuclear agreement still in force between the U.S. and Russia is the 2010 New START treaty limiting their strategic arsenals that’s due to expire early in 2021.

The collapse of the INF accord “inevitably” undermines the New START treaty as well as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Putin said. “Such a scenario means the resumption of an unrestrained arms race,” he said.

The Trump administration says new or renewed nuclear arms control treaties should include China’s expanding arsenal as well as U.S. and Russian weapons, a prospect China has already rejected.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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