06:52 GMT28 October 2020
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    ROME (Sputnik) - Russia will never be the first to deploy medium-range missiles in Europe after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty ended but will respond in kind if the United States takes this step, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

    "We will never be the first to deploy this kind of armaments in any region unless it agrees to host similar US-made weapons. This position has not changed," he said after a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio in Rome.

    Lavrov lamented NATO’s refusal to back a moratorium proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on deploying short- and medium-range missiles in Europe.

    "If practical steps are taken to build and deploy [such weapons in Europe] we will respond in kind but we will not be the first ones. Americans said they were not going to create a missile of this class but they have already tested one," he added.

    In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a proposal to the leaders of several countries, NATO members among them, to introduce a moratorium on deploying short- and intermediate-range missiles banned by the INF Treaty in Europe and other regions.

    A month later, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said that if INF-covered missiles are deployed in Europe, this will force Moscow to retaliate.

    Sergei Lavrov, INF, U.S, Europe, medium-range missiles, Russia
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