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Putin: Russia to Produce Previously Banned Missiles, Deploy Them if US Does

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 5, 2019.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will produce missiles banned until last month when a treaty forbidding them ended but would deploy them only if the United States did.

"We said outright that we will not deploy anything after the Americans tested such a missile,” Putin said during an economic conference in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Sept. 5.

“We will make 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 United States have emerged," he added.

After accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty for years, the United States officially withdrew Aug. 2 from the pact banning ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The collapse of the Cold War-era treaty raised fears of a new arms race.

Tensions grew after Washington’s admission on Aug. 18 that it had test launched a missile and would use the data collected from it for the Defense Department's "development of future intermediate-range capabilities."

Putin said in Vladivostok that he was concerned by comments from Washington concerning the deployment of missiles in Japan and South Korea since those sites are close enough to strike Russian territory.

Putin's statement echoed a previous comment he made Aug. 5, when he warned that Russia would respond in kind if the United States developed short- and intermediate-range, land-based nuclear missiles following the demise of the key Cold War-era arms-control treaty.