Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) will be “very dangerous” and that the United States will be “putting their territories under risk of a possible response strike.”
It comes after Trump said on Monday that the US would increase its nuclear arsenal until other nations “come to their senses,” threatening an arms race days after he said he would withdraw the US from a Cold War nuclear treaty.
Putin said if the US withdraws from the INF treaty, Russia will have to respond.
“The main question is if the US will exit the arms treaty, what are they going to do with the newly appearing missiles?” the Russian President said during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
“If they will be deployed in Europe we will of course have to respond in kind and European countries who agree to it (the US deploying its missiles) will have to understand that they are putting their territories under risk of a possible response strike.”
Trump told reporters on Monday that Russia had not adhered to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The 1987 treaty was seen as a watershed moment during the end days of the Cold War, helping to eliminate thousands of land-based missiles with ranges between approximately 300 and 3,400 miles.
He said his vow to increase the US nuclear stockpile included a posture against China as well.
“Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said to reporters outside the White House.
“It’s a threat to whoever you want,” Trump said. “And it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me.”
Possible Trump-Putin meeting in Paris
On Wednesday Putin also raised concerns about the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty and a potential new arms race.
“What concerns us is that the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) treaty has been already killed, now we are talking about the treaty regarding short and intermediate range missiles. The future of the New START treaty is unclear.
“If all of these treaties are dismantled, there will be nothing left to limit the expansion of armaments and then the situation will be very dangerous and there will be nothing but an arms race,” Putin stated.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Trump’s intention to build new missiles was “extremely dangerous.”
“This is an extremely dangerous intention … to get involved in an arms race, building up the corresponding potential of weapons,” Peskov said. “I repeat, this will make the world more dangerous.”
Peskov also said the Kremlin had started preparing for a meeting between Trump and Putin this November in Paris.
Trump said Tuesday that he would likely meet with Putin at next month’s Armistice centenary in Paris.
“I think we probably will. It hasn’t been set up yet but it probably will be,” he said.
Peskov added that both countries had discussed the possibility of Putin visiting Washington next year, but “with no specific decisions on the matter yet.”
CNN’s Eli Watkins and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.