Moscow will match any U.S. move to deploy new nuclear missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Putin said Russia was not seeking confrontation and would not take the first step to deploy missiles in response to Washington’s decision this month to quit a landmark Cold War-era arms control treaty.
But in his toughest remarks yet on a potential new arms race, he said Russia’s reaction to any deployment would be resolute and that U.S. policymakers, some of whom he accused of being obsessed with U.S. exceptionalism, should calculate the risks before taking any steps.
“It’s their right to think how they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing,” Putin told Russia’s political elite to strong applause.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he said.
“These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.”
Russian nuclear missiles already target the United States and vice versa.
Putin’s statement is likely to evoke memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 when the then Soviet Union responded to a U.S. missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.