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Russia could scrap restrictions on missile deployment – Lavrov

Moscow’s top diplomat has accused Washington of “irresponsible” brinkmanship

Russia will strengthen its nuclear arsenal and drop its self-imposed restrictions on missiles if the US deploys launchers to Europe or Asia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

In an interview with Rossiya Segodnya published on Thursday, Lavrov was asked how Moscow would respond if the US stations ground-based short-range and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, given the unprecedented level of international tensions.

“The implementation of the plans of the Americans to deploy ground-based [missiles] will not go unanswered,” Lavrov said. He explained that Russia would be forced to abandon “the unilateral self-restrictions” it has been following since the US left the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“We are not ruling out additional steps in the field of nuclear deterrence because forward-deployed American missiles will be capable of striking command centers and elements of our nuclear arsenal,” the foreign minister said.

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In 2019, the US tore up the agreement that helped end the Cold War by banning ground-based missiles with a range of up to 5,500km (3,420 miles), as well as systems used to fire them. At the time, the Pentagon accused Russia of secretly violating the INF Treaty. Moscow has denied the allegations and suspended its own participation in the accord following Washington’s withdrawal.

In 2022, the US rolled out the Typhoon, its newest medium-range missile system. It was used in a military drill in the Philippines in April. Beijing protested the move, accusing the US of “strengthening forward deployment at China’s doorstep to seek unilateral military advantage.”

Speaking to Rossiya Segodnya, Lavrov said that Moscow and Beijing “agreed to boost cooperation in order to counter Washington’s irresponsible behavior, which undermines international stability.”

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping released a joint statement earlier this month, condemning the “highly destabilizing steps that pose a direct threat to the security of Russia and China.”

Moscow announced in May that it was developing new missile systems in response to the delivery of US-made ATACMS and other Western-supplied long-range missiles to Ukraine.

May 30, 2024 at 11:05AM

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