Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and head of delegation Sergey Ryabkov attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) conference in Beijing of the UN Security Council's five permanent members (P5) China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, China, January 30, 2019 Photograph:( Reuters )
Tensions are high between Russia and the West over situation along Russia-Ukraine border
Russia on Monday said that it may be forced to deploy nuclear missiles in Europe as a reaction to what it perceives as NATO's plan to do the same.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia's RIA news agency in an interview that Moscow would have to take the step if NATO refused to engage with it on preventing such an escalation.
The comments may heighten tensions as West sees Russia to be preparing for an invasion in Ukraine. The US and its allies are warning Moscow against it.
Missiles that Russia has threatened to deploy are Intermediate nuclear missiles.
Intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe were banned under a 1987 treaty agreed between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in what was hailed at the time as a major easing of Cold War tensions. Washington quit the pact in 2019 after complaining for years of alleged Russian violations.
Ryabkov said there were "indirect indications" that NATO was moving closer to re-deploying INF, including its restoration last month of the 56th Artillery Command which operated nuclear-capable Pershing missiles during the Cold War.
'COMPLETE LACK OF TRUST'
"Lack of progress towards a political and diplomatic solution to this problem will lead to our response being of a military and technical military nature," he said.
"That is, it will be a confrontation, this will the next round, the appearance of such resources on our side. Right now there aren't any, we have a unilateral moratorium. We call for NATO and the U.S. to join this moratorium."
NATO says there will be no new US missiles in Europe and it is ready to deter new Russian missiles with a "measured" response that would only involve conventional weapons.
But Ryabkov said Russia had a "complete lack of trust" in NATO.
"They don't permit themselves to do anything that could somehow increase our security - they believe they can act as they need, to their advantage, and we simply have to swallow all this and deal with it. This is not going to continue."
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden held two hours of talks last week on the Ukraine crisis and Moscow's demand for what it calls legally binding security guarantees from the West.
(With inputs from agencies)