On February 2, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow suspended the INF Treaty.
The Russian decision came in response to the American February 1 announcement that Washington would suspend its liabilities under the INF Treaty starting February 2 and would quit the agreement outright within six months if Moscow failed to comply with the agreement.
During the meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin stated: "Our response will be symmetrical. Our US partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the INF Treaty, and we are suspending it too. They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same.
"I agree with the Defense Ministry’s proposals to create a land-based version of the Kalibr launchers and work on a new project to develop a land-based hypersonic intermediate-range missile.
"At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not and will not let ourselves be drawn into an expensive arms race…"
The following is a selection of articles published by MEMRI on the INF Treaty and its suspension:
An Overview Of The INF Suspension – Russian Expert Korotchenko: If The Americans Place Medium And Shorter Range Missiles In Estonia, A Blow To St. Petersburg Can Be Delivered In Three Minutes – Russia Needs A 'Mirror Response'
The Russian media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda teamed up with Igor Korotchenko the editor-in-chief of the magazine National Defense, to answer the main questions arising from the suspension of the INF Treaty, and explain Russia's point of view on the issue.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7880, An Overview Of The INF Suspension – Russian Expert Korotchenko: If The Americans Place Medium And Shorter Range Missiles In Estonia, A Blow To St. Petersburg Can Be Delivered In Three Minutes – Russia Needs A 'Mirror Response', February 7, 2019.
USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan sign the INF Treaty at the White House, in 1987. (Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)
Russian Expert Rogov On The Suspension Of The INF Treaty: We Can Inflict An Intolerable Blow On The Americans
Commenting on the INF's suspension, Sergey Rogov, head researcher at the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of the US and Canada, said that a New Cold War had begun. He then stressed that even though an agreement is an important thing, facts are what matter the most. According to Rogov, the most important fact is that in Europe there are currently no American missiles with short flight times to strategic targets in Russia. At the same time, there are no Russian rockets that can strike the same targets in Europe.
However, warned Rogov, should the Americans deploy their new missiles near the Russian borders, a new situation would be created dramatically increasing the risk of a nuclear conflict.
Rogov reassured his audience that Russia can inflict an "intolerable blow" on the USs even with the currently existing weapons systems and this capability would be further buttressed once Russia's new strategic weapons systems entered the arsenal.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7873, Russian Expert Rogov On The Suspension Of The INF Treaty: We Can Inflict An Intolerable Blow On The Americans, February 4, 2019.
Putin's Annual End-Of-The-Year News Conference - Putin Addresses Fear Of A Nuclear War: After The US Withdraws From The INF Treaty, What Will Happen? What If These Missiles Show Up In Europe? What Are We Supposed To Do Then?
On December 20, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions during the annual end-of-the-year news conference. Putin’s news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24, Channel One and NTV, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7873, Putin's Annual End-Of-The-Year News Conference – Russian Commentators: 'The Questions Reeked Of Idiocy With A Dash Of Hopelessness'; Real Journalists Did Not Manage To Attend The Event, December 30, 2018.
Deputy FM Ryabkov: Russia Will Not Ignore The Possible Deployment Of US Medium- And Short-Range Missiles Threatening Us And Our Allies; Russia Has All The Necessary Forces And Means To Beat Back Any Aggressor
In an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant, published on December 19, 2018, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov discussed Washington's possible withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In particular, Ryabkov commented on the 60-day deadline that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Russia to correct its violations of the INF Treaty.
Ryabkov countered that Russia is strictly abiding by the INF and is not guilty of any violation. However, Ryabkov warned that the US and European countries should be aware that Russia will not ignore the possible deployment of US medium- and short-range missiles threatening "us" and "our allies". This could exacerbate the situation into a new missile crises.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7819, Deputy FM Ryabkov: Russia Will Not Ignore The Possible Deployment Of US Medium- And Short-Range Missiles Threatening Us And Our Allies; Russia Has All The Necessary Forces And Means To Beat Back Any Aggressor, December 23, 2018.
Former Kremlin Advisor Karaganov: 'We Are In An Acute Prewar Situation'
Sergey Karaganov, a former Putin advisor and one of Russia's leading intellectuals, wrote that the present-day level of threat is comparable with the times immediately after the Cuban missile crisis (also known as Caribbean Crisis) and even worse than the situation preceding the First World War.
According to Karaganov, the current situation is aggravated by the United States' desire to renounce to the INF Treaty, which may be followed by the renunciation of the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive armaments, the New START. "The U.S. steps have had several objectives. First are the efforts to regain military superiority that underlay the West's 500-years-long dominance in world politics, the economy, culture, and ideology. Even more obvious is its desire to clear the pathway for an amassed modernization of strategic systems," the former Kremlin advisor stated.
Karaganov continued stating that Russia should not respond promptly to the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty with military technologies. First the Americans should pay the maximum price for their withdrawal. "They must come before the world community as what they really are, namely, the main challenge to international security and strategic stability," Karaganov wrote.
The former Kremlin advisor then added that moving down to "the old path" of the arms race and arms reduction talks is inadvisable. Karaganov asserted that placing further emphasis on asymmetrical options would be a better response. Another option would be a Russia-China-US "trialogue" on measures for maintaining international strategic stability, with the goal of averting an accidental escalation of a conflict.
Karaganov concluded stating that he feels profound revulsion at the "falsehood and enmities" of the past Cold War. "But the foolishness, naïveté and trust in sheer luck we have been demonstrating over the period that followed it are shameful," he opined.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7802, Former Kremlin Advisor Karaganov: 'We Are In An Acute Prewar Situation', December 13, 2018.
Russian Expert Felgenhauer: By Announcing The US Withdrawal From The INF Treaty, Trump Gave A Gift To The Russian 'War Party'
On October 20, U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a key Cold War arms deal with Russia, after accusing Moscow of violating it.
Russian expert Pavel Felgenhauer argued in an article, titled "A signal has been given to the missiles" that Trump, by announcing his withdrawal from the INF Treaty, awarded a gift to the Russian "war party." The Russian expert explained that the US does not now possess, nor will it possess in the immediate few years, any operational land-based intermediate-range missiles for deployment. "In other words, withdrawal from the INF treaty today does not give the US any special military advantages," Felgenhauer commented.
Russia, in contrast, is ready for an "immediate" response to a termination of the INF treaty. "[In Russia,] there are Х-101/102 LRCM, Kalibr, and Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems — and they all exist in nuclear and non-nuclear warhead versions. A couple of battalions of Iskander-K launching stations (called Novator 9M729 or SSC-8 in the West) have been tested and, as the Pentagon claims, deployed. It was this violation of the treaty that the West accuses Russia of," Felgenhauer explained.
Felgenhauer criticized Trump's move, stating that he provided Russia with both the pretext and the opportunity to deploy nuclear weapons. "Russian cheap and low-vulnerability nuclear and non-nuclear Iskander-K or SSC-8 LRCM will have the American and their allies' bases in Europe and the Middle East in the crosshairs, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) will be aimed practically exclusively at the US," Felgenhauer concluded.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7734, Russian Expert Felgenhauer: By Announcing The US Withdrawal From The INF Treaty, Trump Gave A Gift To The Russian 'War Party', October 29, 2018.
Putin At The Expanded Meeting Of The Defense Ministry Board: The United States' Defense Strategy Is An Aggressive Strategy
On December 22, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the Russian Ministry of Defense's extended board session that convened took place in the new building of the "Peter The Great" Military Academy of the Strategic Missile Forces. During the session, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu summed up the results of 2017 and outlined Russia's military threats.
Putin stressed that the U.S. and NATO's defense strategy is an offensive one, to put it in diplomatic language, and in military language it would be called aggressive. He then assured his audience that Russia's nuclear forces reliably ensure strategic deterrence. "But we must develop them further," Putin specified.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7268, Putin At The Expanded Meeting Of The Defense Ministry Board: The United States' Defense Strategy Is An Aggressive Strategy, January 7, 2018.
Putin At The Valdai International Discussion Club Conclave Part II: If The U.S. Withdraws From The INF Treaty, 'Our Response Would Be Immediate, I Would Like To Repeat This Warning'
The following are excerpts from the answers that Vladimir Putin gave to questions from political analysts attending the plenary session of the Valdai International Discussion Club's annual meeting. The Q&As were moderated by the Russian intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov, who serves as research director at the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.
During the Q&As, Putin tackled Russia-U.S. Relations and the INF Treaty. Commenting on Washington's accusations that Russia is violating the treaty, Putin noted: "When we agreed to eliminate the intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, the deal concerned Pershing missiles, which are land-based, and our missile systems. Incidentally, when our intermediate- and shorter-range missiles were eliminated, our chief engineer committed suicide, because he believed that it was betrayal of his country…
"However, the U.S. still has both airborne and sea-based missiles. In fact, this was unilateral disarmament for the Soviet side as well, but now we have both airborne and sea-based missiles… We believe that we have only balanced out the situation. If someone does not like it and wishes to withdraw from the treaty, for example, our American partners, our response would be immediate, I would like to repeat this warning. Immediate and reciprocal." The Russian President then added: "However, we have complied and we will comply with our old treaties, as long as our partners comply as well."
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7145, Putin At The Valdai International Discussion Club Conclave Part II: If The U.S. Withdraws From The INF Treaty, 'Our Response Would Be Immediate, I Would Like To Repeat This Warning', October 24, 2017.
Russia This Week:
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7872, Russia This Week – Focus On The INF Treaty – February 3, 2019, February 3, 2019.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7872, Russia This Week – Focus On The INF Treaty – February 3, 2019, February 3, 2019.