Putin says Russia has ‘caught up with US missile capabilities

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow has ‘caught up with US missile capabilities’ and will respond if America quits a landmark Cold War nuclear treaty.

Speaking to international policy experts at the Valdai forum in Sochi, Putin said Russia will respond immediately and symmetrically if the United States quits the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

U.S. officials have accused Russia of developing missiles in violation of the treaty, a charge Russia has denied.

The 1987 agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was designed to see the mutual elimination of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers between the two countries.

Putin said the accord was tilted in the US’s favor, effectively amounting to ‘unilateral disarmament,’ as it failed to ban missiles carried by navy ships and aircraft that the US had and the Soviet Union didn’t.

He said Russia has since developed such cruise missiles for its navy and air force.

Moscow is also ready to develop new weapons systems, both nuclear and non-nuclear, in response to other countries doing the same, Putin said at the forum with scholars.