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Russia will produce new missiles that would have been banned under a recently defunct nuclear arms treaty, according to President Vladimir Putin, who added that Moscow would not deploy them unless Washington made the first move.
"We've said in public already that we're not going to deploy (a cruise missile) after the Americans tested such a missile," Putin told an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok Thursday.
"We will produce such missiles, of course, but we will not deploy them in the regions where no ground-based missile systems of this class manufactured by the U.S. have emerged," he said, according to a translation.
He added that he was not happy about potential U.S. plans to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range missile systems in South Korea and Japan.
"This actually makes us quite sad, and it is also a reason for certain concerns for us," Putin said during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
"If they are deployed in Japan or South Korea, we understand that this is going to be done under the pretext of preventing the threat from North Korea but for us it is going to pose a significant problem, a very serious one because these missile systems are going to be able to cover a large part of the Russian territory."
Putin's comments come after the U.S. withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia in August, having accused it of flouting the conditions of the pact. Putin reiterated Thursday that he believed the U.S.' withdrawal from the agreement was "counter-productive" and would "destroy the international arms control system."
The treaty stated that neither the U.S. nor Russia could produce, possess, or flight-test ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Both sides accused the other of violating the agreement before it collapsed this year.
The treaty was considered well and truly buried when the U.S. tested a cruise missile in August that would have been prohibited under the treaty, a test Russia described as "regrettable" and provocative. Putin said Moscow had asked the U.S. to de-escalate an arms race but that Washington had not responded.