Russia will “symmetrically” respond to the U.S. actions after the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian foreign minister said on Friday.
"As for the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, here President Putin very clearly outlined our position - we will act symmetrically," Sergey Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the ministerial session of the Council of Europe in Helsinki.
Lavrov recalled that the U.S. has suspended its participation in the treaty and launched a withdrawal procedure, which takes six months and will be completed on Aug 2, after that the treaty will go out of existence.
"We will work on these developments if the U.S. does so, and they will do so. But we will not design and deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in any region where similar American systems are not deployed," Lavrov said.
The foreign minister added that "no one wants to repeat the history that led to the signing of the treaty".
In October 2018, U.S President Donald Trump announced the exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
In a tit-for-tat response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Feb. 2 that Moscow was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty -- done legally March 4.
The treaty has been widely seen as a cornerstone of European security in the post-Cold War era after the U.S. and Russia signed it in 1987. It prohibits both countries from possessing and testing ground launch missiles with a range between 300 – 3,100 miles (900 - 5,500 kilometers).
Council of Europe
Sergey Lavrov said the today's meeting of the Council of Europe foreign ministers gave hope that Russia and the organization can pass a crisis regarding the participation of the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
"We very much appreciate that our consistent line to restore justice was supported by both the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the responsible delegations of the member states, which turned out to be a majority.
"As a result, a decision has been made today, which clearly confirmed that, as stated in the Charter, each member state of the Council of Europe has equal rights and obligations. This, in fact, opens the way to overcoming the current crisis, which was created by the illegal decision of PACE," Lavrov said.
The Council of Europe had suspended Russia's voting rights and limited certain functions of the Russian delegation in the organization after Russia's annexation of Crimea.
In response, Russia refused to pay its annual membership fees after which the council warned Moscow of its possible exclusion from the organization.