Vladimir Putin: Russia will abandon nuclear arms treaty

Russia to create hypersonic missile in response to Trump pulling US out of nuclear treaty, Moscow says

Two new missile systems planned for completion by 2021

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 05 February 2019 16:14
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Vladimir Putin has said he supports the creation of new hypersonic land-based missiles in response to Donald Trump pulling the US out of a nuclear arms control treaty in place since the Cold War.

The Russian president said on Saturday Russia had suspended the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty after the US’s exit after Donald Trump accused Moscow of violating the pact’s terms.

In a meeting with the head of Russia’s ministry of defence, Sergei Shoigu, and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, Mr Putin gave his approval to plans which include the building of hypersonic land-based missiles as well as a ground-based version of the Kalibr (also known as Caliber) sea-launched cruise missile.

The two new systems will be completed by 2021, under the plans put forward by General Shoigu.

Moscow also accused the US of testing and using weapons in “direct violation” of the 1987 INF treaty.

In the meeting, a transcript of which the Kremlin published online, Mr Putin said: “I agree with the proposals of the ministry of defence about the start of work on the ‘landing’ of Caliber and the opening of a new direction – the creation of a medium-range hypersonic land-based rocket.”

He added: “At the same time, I want to draw your attention to the fact that we should not and will not be drawn into an expensive arms race.”

Currently, Caliber missiles can only be launched from ships, due to the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned land launches.

Mr Putin also said he wanted to see how work was progressing with other military technologies, including the Dagger, a hypersonic air-carrier launched missile, and Peresvet, new combat laser weapons.

Speaking about the US and Russia withdrawing from the treaty, Mr Lavrov told Mr Putin: “In general, the situation is alarming. And I repeat that the decision taken by the United States on the INF Treaty, of course, is of great concern throughout the world, especially in Europe.”

Mr Putin has said he would not deploy weapons to Europe and other regions unless the US did so.

The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and US president Ronald Reagan. It prohibited the manufacture and deployment of ground-launched nuclear missiles capable of ranges between 310 and 3,420 miles.

The pact forced each country to dismantle more than 2,500 missiles, and has ensured nuclear-tipped cruise missiles have not been deployed in Europe for three decades.

But Mr Trump first threatened withdrawing from the pact in October 2018, saying Moscow had been in violation of the treaty’s terms for “many years”.

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Despite this, Mr Trump has expressed a desire to draw up a new treaty between the two countries.

“I hope that we’re able to get everybody in a big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better. Certainly, I would like to see that,” the US president told reporters at the White House on Friday.

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