Russia racing to develop new missile systems to counter US by 2021

Russia announced Tuesday that it is planning to develop two new land-based missile launch systems in response to President Trump’s announcement last week that the U.S. will withdraw from a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.

Moscow intends to develop the systems by 2021 in order to counter U.S. developments in its missile capabilities, according to Reuters.

{mosads}The White House announced the decision to stop complying with the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in a statement from Trump early Friday.

“For far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad,” Trump said.

The U.S. and others in the international community have accused Russia of violating the treaty, which prohibits nuclear and conventional ground-launched missiles with ranges between 300 to 3,400 miles from being deployed in Europe, since 2014.

The original treaty, which was signed by former President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, resulted in 2,692 missiles being destroyed. 

Russia denies that it is in violation of the accord. 

Putin said Tuesday that Moscow would research and design new missile systems after Washington indicated it would do the same. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu officially ordered work to begin on the new systems.

“From Feb. 2, the United States suspended its obligations under the INF treaty,” he told a meeting of defense chiefs, according to Reuters. 

“At the same time they are actively working to create a land-based missile with a range of more than 500 km which is outside the treaty’s limits. President Putin has given the defense ministry the task of taking symmetrical measures.” 

U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said Tuesday that the U.S. would reconsider withdrawing from the INF “should Russia return to full and verifiable compliance.” 

“This is Russia’s final opportunity to return to compliance,” he said at a United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Tags Donald Trump INF Treaty Missile defense Russia
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