Russia will start the full-scale development of missiles banned by the collapsed Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty if the United States begins to do so, President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
"Before such weapons enter the arsenal of the Russian army, real threats to Russia in connection with the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty will be reliably counteracted by our existing means," Putin said in a statement.
These means include X-101 and Kinzhal air-based missiles, sea-based Kalibr cruise missiles and prospective systems, including hypersonic Zircon missiles, the president said.
Meanwhile, Russia will not abandon its unilateral obligations, and all its actions will be exclusively reciprocal, he said.
This applies to the development, production and deployment of medium- and shorter-range ground-based missiles banned by the INF Treaty, which Russia is not going to place anywhere until U.S.-produced similar weapons are deployed in the vicinity, Putin said.
He said he had instructed the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service to carefully monitor the further steps of the United States in the development, production and deployment of medium- and shorter-range missiles.
Russia regrets the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty, one of the landmark documents for arms control, and the withdrawal seriously complicates the situation in the world and creates fundamental risks for everyone, Putin said.
He stressed that the responsibility for this lies entirely with the United States, which has "crossed out many years of efforts aimed at reducing the prospect of a major military conflict, including the use of nuclear weapons."
Nevertheless, Moscow still relies on common sense and on the sense of responsibility of the United States and its allies, Putin said, warning that the dismantling of the INF Treaty may undermine the entire global security system.
"Russia considers it necessary to resume without delay full-fledged negotiations on ensuring strategic stability and security. We are ready for this," he said.
The INF Treaty formally collapsed on Friday. The treaty signed in Washington on Dec. 8, 1987 was terminated at the initiative of the U.S. side.