If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.
The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.
The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.
Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.”
The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.
He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.
“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,” he said.