Russia will retaliate if US deploys intermediate-range missiles to Asia-Pacific: Diplomat

Russia has warned the United States against its controversial plan to deploy intermediate- and shorter-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region, saying the move would be met with reaction and retaliation from Moscow.

Russia will react and take measures to maintain its national security if the United States brings missile to the region, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as speaking in a news briefing on Friday.

“The deployment of US intermediate and shorter-range missiles of whatever configuration in various parts of the world, including the Asia-Pacific region, would have an extremely destabilizing effect from the standpoint of international and regional security,” she said.

She added that any missile deployment by the United States would provoke a new spiral of the “arms race fraught with unpredictable consequences.”

The Russian diplomat emphasized that Washington’s decision would by no means boost its own security let alone its allies, saying, “The emergence of more missile threats will certainly entail our retaliation.”

Zakharova noted that Moscow’s unilateral moratorium on deploying such missiles in the regions, where this type of weapons of US manufacture was absent, remained in force.

“We are calling upon all parties concerned for joint efforts to achieve a political and diplomatic settlement of the situation following Washington’s termination of the INF Treaty,” the spokeswoman said, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty from which the US officially withdrew on August 2, 2019, blaming Moscow for the collapse of the Cold War-era treaty.

The INF had banned all land-based missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers and included missiles carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads.

Following the US decision to withdraw from the INF, Moscow also declared the formal end of the arms control treaty signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, limiting the manufacturing and deployment of medium-range missiles.

The treaty was seen as a milestone in ending the Cold War arms race between the two superpowers, leading to the elimination of nearly 2,700 missiles from both sides.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said her country kept the door open to equitable and constructive work aimed at restoring trust, international security and strategic stability.

Her remarks came after Japanese media reported that Tokyo and Washington were mulling plans for discussing the outlook for the deployment of US-made ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Japan, previously banned under the INF Treaty.

The Japanese government in June last year confirmed the cancellation of a plan to deploy a multibillion-dollar US anti-missile system in the country, amid pressure from local residents complaining about the health risks posed by the project.

The government said it had reversed the decision to station Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in the Yamaguchi Prefecture in the southwest of Japan and in the Akita Prefecture in its north.

The United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) last month provided a budget document to Congress that said the US needed increased ground-based weapons along the first island chain, which would cost $408 million in fiscal year 2022 alone and $2.9 billion from fiscal years 2023 to 2027.

The first island chain is the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago, through Taiwan, the Philippines and on to Borneo, enclosing China’s coastal seas.

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