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Russia threatens to target U.S. missile allies if Trump exits Cold War treaty

(Bloomberg) — Russia will target countries hosting U.S.
missiles if Washington goes ahead with plans to pull out of a
landmark Cold War arms treaty, General Staff chief Valery
Gerasimov said Wednesday.

“If the INF treaty is destroyed, we won’t leave it without a
response,” he said in a presentation to foreign military
attaches in Moscow, according to an official transcript. “You
as military professionals must understand that the target for
Russian retaliation won’t be U.S. territory but the countries
where the intermediate-range missiles are deployed.”

His comments came hours after the U.S. said it would pull out
of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 60 days
if Russia doesn’t stop alleged violations. Moscow says it’s
complying with the deal. Gerasimov accused the U.S. of seeking
to shift the blame for its demise to Russia.

The U.S. has said it has no plans to deploy land-based nuclear
missiles in Europe once it pulls out of the treaty. In the
past, Russia has threatened to target European countries that
hosted U.S. missile defenses.

Earlier Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said it’s deployed
laser weapons, one of several systems President Vladimir Putin
touted as a new generation of armaments during his annual
address in March.

Russian
President Vladimir Putin (C) shakes hands with Russia’s Head of
the Armed Forces General Staff, First Deputy Defense Minister,
Army General Valery Gerasimov (R) as Defence Minister Sergey
Shoigu (L) looks on during their meeting in Moscow on December
22, 2016.
Alexey Nikolsky / AFP

The Peresvet laser, named after a 14th century Orthodox monk
who fought in single combat against a Tatar champion at the
Battle of Kulikovo, was deployed by the army on December 1, the
ministry said in an emailed statement.

Putin in March described the new arms as Russia’s response to
the U.S. decision in 2002 to pull out of the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty and develop its global defense shield. While
Peresvet’s technical specifications are secret, military
experts say it can be used against drones, missiles and
aircraft.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NATO allies on Tuesday that
the U.S. is setting a two-month deadline for Russia to return
to compliance with the INF treaty before carrying out President
Donald Trump’s threat in October to withdraw from the accord.
Russia denies breaching the treaty, which bans deployment of
ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 kilometers (311
miles) to 5,500 kilometers, and has said it wants to hold talks
with the U.S. on preserving the agreement.

“The U.S. has presented no evidence that the Russian side in
any way violates or fails to comply with the terms of the
agreement,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria
Zakharova told reporters in Moscow. The INF treaty is “one of
the key pillars of strategic stability” and Russia’s ready to
discuss any problems with the accord without “baseless
accusations and ultimatums,” she said.

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