Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the ministries of defence and foreign affairs and other departments to analyse the implications of the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to prepare “a symmetrical response” following the 18 August US test of a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM).
In opening remarks during a meeting of Russia’s security council on 23 August posted on the Kremlin website, Putin said the use of a Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (Mk 41 VLS) to fire the GLCM, which hit a target over 500 km away, confirms the validity of Russian claims that the Mk 41 VLS used for Aegis Ashore in Romania and in future in Poland violated the INF Treaty. “How do we now understand what will be deployed in Romania and Poland – missile defence systems or missile strike systems of sufficiently long range?” Putin asked rhetorically.
“This only confirms the validity of our previously expressed concerns,” he said. “We previously had information that the United States has been engaged in the creation of weapons prohibited by the INF Treaty for a long time, and have repeatedly pointed this out to our partners.”
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