Russia Vows to Respond After Trump Pulls Out of Missile Treaty

(Bloomberg) -- Russia will respond if the U.S. goes ahead with plans to pull out of a landmark Cold War-era disarmament pact, senior legislators said Friday.

“Of course, if the U.S. withdraws from the treaty, Russia won’t continue to observe it unilaterally,” said Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Defense Committee in the upper house of parliament. “The U.S. is pulling out in order to legitimize putting its missiles in Europe. Well, we have what we need to re-target, such as sea-based missiles,” he said.

Accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, President Donald Trump Friday announced the U.S. is suspending its obligations under the agreement and beginning the six-month process of formal withdrawal.

“This isn’t news to us, we’ve been prepared for it,” Vladimir Shamanov, chairman of the Defense Committee in the lower house of parliament, told RIA Novosti. Just what Russia’s response would be “is for the moment a state secret that will be revealed by the president,” he said.

Russian officials have said they will target any U.S. missiles deployed in Europe after Washington pulls out of the INF deal. U.S. officials have said they have no plans to deploy such weapons in Europe after exiting INF.

Russia denies it’s breached the agreement and accused the Trump administration of seeking a pretext to end it. Moscow has warned that collapse of the 1987 agreement could threaten the entire system of nuclear-arms control between the U.S. and Russia, in particular prospects for extending the New Start treaty limiting the number of warheads on each side, a deal that expires in 2021.

“Peaceful coexistence on the planet is of course under threat,” Klintsevich said. “That worries me a lot.”

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