Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the country's defense ministry to work on new weapons after the Russia's falling-out with the United States in relation to the nuclear treaty.
Russia's move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The Trump administration said it was concerned with the growing threats from Russia and China beyond the INF treaty.
The United States previously noted that Russia already violated the treaty numerous times. According to BBC defense and diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, reports believe that Russia may have already deployed about 100 of the ground-launched cruise missiles.
Russia views the United States in the same light. It has also suspended its participation in the treaty, saying that Washington has been violating it, as well.
"[The U.S. is] actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500 km, which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said. He also confirmed that Putin instructed the defense ministry to take a "tit-for-tat mirrored" approach.
Moscow now aims to develop new land-based missiles. Russia already has sea or air-launched missiles but following the INF, the treaty banned countries from having ground-launched missiles. This is now the opportunity for Russia to create new systems following its withdrawal from the arms pact.
In her column for the Washington Post, Katrina vanden Heuvel sees the fallout from the treaty as a potential trigger for a new nuclear arms race. There is a six-month period for countries before full withdrawal. While Trump left the door open for Russia to come around within the 180-day window, he will only salvage the treaty if Moscow decides to destroy all its launchers, missiles and associated equipment violating the agreement.
Russia argued that the United States is resorting to false allegations because it never wanted to be part of the agreement in the first place. Trump confirmed during the announcement of the withdrawal that the United States "will move forward with developing our own military response options" to Russia's threat. However, vanden Heuvel believes that abandonment is not the solution.
"But enforcement, not abandonment, is the answer to violations of law. Trump claims a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rather than sweep away denuclearization efforts or maintain the status quo, the United States should revive a bolder disarmament initiative, engaging both Russia and China in discussions on deep reductions in nuclear arsenals, and using that agreement to build momentum against proliferation," she wrote.