Russia to design new intermediate range missiles in 2 years

Russia's defense minister says the nation will develop land-based intermediate range missiles within two years

MOSCOW -- Russia will develop land-based intermediate range missiles within two years, the nation's defense minister said Tuesday, a statement that comes in response to the U.S. decision to abandon a key nuclear arms pact.

The U.S. has formally notified Russia over the weekend of its decision to suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty over alleged Russian violations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by saying that Moscow would also abandon the pact.

Russia has rejected the U.S. claim that it has built and deployed a cruise missile that violated the treaty's ban on land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles). But Shoigu said Tuesday such weapons need to be designed now, charging that the U.S. has already started developing such weapons.

He said at a meeting with senior officers that a land-based version of the navy's Kalibr cruise missile and a new land-based hypersonic missile must be built in 2019-2020.

Shoigu added that adapting the Kalibr for use with ground forces will allow to "significantly reduce the time required for building new missiles and the amount of funds."

He noted that the Kalibr has proven itself during the Syrian campaign, when it was launched at targets in Syria from Russian navy ships in the Caspian and the Mediterranean Seas.

Shoigu made the statement following a meeting with Putin over the weekend, at which the Russian leader instructed the military to work on developing new land-based weapons that were previously forbidden by the INF treaty.

Putin emphasized that such new weapons won't be deployed unless the U.S. does so.

"Russia will not station intermediate-range weapons in Europe or other regions until similar U.S. weapons appear in those regions," he said.