Russian officials responded with belligerence and hysteria to Friday’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a 1987 agreement the U.S. has accused Russia of repeatedly violating.
The Russians promised a military response and warned the American move could trigger the end of the world.
The Moscow Times quoted former Chief of the General Staff Yury Baluyevsky vowing that Russia is “ready to respond quickly militarily to the U.S. decision.”
“Yet another mechanism to avoid nuclear conflict has been destroyed,” proclaimed Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“I congratulate the whole world,” Kosachev said sarcastically. “The United States has taken another step toward its destruction today.”
Defense and Security Committee Deputy Chairman Franz Klintsevich declared Russian will not comply with the INF treaty “unilaterally” and promised to “revive a number of medium- and short-range missile creation projects.”
“Washington’s decision should serve as a lesson for Russia, China and other countries in building alliances and blocs in the future,” said State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Dmitry Novikov.
“This game is done,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “The Americans are sure to finally pull out of the treaty. This will be a serious blow to the international arms control system and the system of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction which exist for now.”
Ryabkov speculated the U.S. will deploy Tomahawk missiles to Romania, where they could be launched from silos constructed as part of a missile defense system in 2017. For that matter, he repeated Russia’s long-standing complaint about the American missile defense system belatedly scheduled for installation in Poland in 2020.
“This step carries a threat to the entire system of international security, but first of all for Russia because after leaving the INF the Americans will deploy these missiles in European countries,” said Russian senator Igor Morozov, hitting the same talking point as Ryabkov.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was somewhat more conciliatory, offering to continue dialogue over the treaty during the six-month window before American withdrawal takes effect.
Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed the INF with his security council on Friday, along with a number of other topics including the situation in Venezuela. Details of the discussion have not been made public. Putin recently threatened to develop more nuclear-capable missiles if the United States withdrew from the INF treaty.