VLADIMIR Putin has vowed to retaliate if Donald Trump carries out his threat to pull the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The Russian President discussed possible retaliation with top defence officials in Moscow but said the Kremlin was ready to discuss the INF treaty with Washington. He said: “The US decision to withdraw from the INF treaty, certainly, cannot and will not remain without a response from our country. I propose today to discuss our steps related to the possible withdrawal of the United States from the INF treaty. I emphasise again that we are ready to hold a dialogue with American partners on this key issue and we hope that they will regard this with full responsibility."
The Cold War-era accord, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles, has come into question against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the West and Russia, most notably over Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and role in eastern Ukraine.
Washington has accused Russia of non-compliance with the 31-year-old missile accord and warned it will pull out of the deal as a result.
The Kremlin denies breaking the pact which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
Mr Trump and other critics of the INF treaty claim it has been irreparably damaged because of Russian violations and insist it has been become irrelevant in the face of China's nuclear weapons programme.