The countries hosting US missile systems will become targets for Russia in case of the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov told a briefing for foreign military attaches on Wednesday.
"Taking into consideration that official representatives of foreign military agencies are in the hall, I would like to send a message to your leadership that if the INF Treaty is violated, we won’t leave this unanswered," TASS quoted Gerasimov as saying.
"As military professionals, you should understand that not the US territory, but the countries hosting US systems with intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles will become targets for Russia’s retaliatory steps," Gerasimov said.
According to Gerasimov, Trump’s statement on the US plans to leave the arms control treaty will negatively affect global strategic stability. "We view this as a very dangerous step, which can negatively influence both European security and strategic stability in general," Gerasimov stressed.
The general noted that the US is placing the responsibility for violating the INF Treaty on Russia’s shoulders, but the real situation is different. "The accusations against Russia are an attempt to disguise the true situation."
The real situation is that since 2000 Russia has been calling on Washington to stop the practice of using target-missiles, simulating ballistic missiles of intermediate and shorter range when testing the anti-ballistic missile system, what is prohibited by the treaty," Gerasimov explained.
The US MK 41 vertical launching systems deployed to Romania and Poland can launch intermediate-range cruise missiles, what is a "direct violation" of commitments under the INF Treaty, he said.
In late October, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it.
The INF deal was concluded on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years, Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own counterclaims against Washington’s non-compliance.