A ground-based Interceptor missile is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on March 25 in the first-ever salvo engagement test of a threat-representative ICBM target. File Photo by Missile Defense Agency/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Now that the United States has left the 32-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russia is ready to open discussions on a potential successor to avoid an "unrestrained arms race," Kremlin President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
The Trump administration left the 1987 pact last week, arguing that Moscow hasn't been abiding by the deal for years. Moscow has said the same about the United States. The accord banned all intermediate-range, ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles and launchers.
In a speech Monday, Putin said Russia won't be the first to deploy missiles that were barred under the INF treaty, but vowed to respond if the Pentagon does so. The U.S. withdrawal, he added, could lead to "chaos without any rules, restrictions and laws."
"In our opinion, the United States' actions, which led to the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, will inevitably entail the weakening and undermining of the entire global security architecture, including the strategic offensive arms treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," Putin said.
Putin said he's convinced U.S. forces have already started production of weapons that were barred by the treaty.
"In case there is trustworthy information that the U.S. has completed the development and started production of these systems, Russia will be forced to launch a full-fledged development of similar missiles," Putin said. "All our actions will be of a reactive, tit-for-tat nature.
"This concerns the development, production and placement of intermediate-and shorter-range ground-based missiles. We will not place them in those regions until U.S.-made intermediate and shorter-range missiles are placed there."
Nordic nations have begun recently to increase their monitoring of Moscow's moves on the Kola Peninsula, which is home to Russia's northern fleet.
In February, Trump began a six-month exit window that ultimately ended with the withdrawal Friday.