13:06 GMT18 April 2021
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    The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement comes amid reported plans by the Pentagon to deploy intermediate-range missiles.

    Plans by the UK and the US to deploy ground-based short- and intermediate-range missiles are making the prevention of possible serious escalations much more difficult, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday.

    The ministry also did not rule out the use of military measures in response to missile threats arising from the West.

    In the past few weeks, the Pentagon has made several statements about practical steps toward deploying missiles previously banned by the now-defunct Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and "the UK military joined the overtly hostile and destabilising statements and actions", Zakharova recalled in her statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    "The implementation of such military programmes is gaining momentum, which obviously leads to a narrowing of the space for a political and diplomatic solution to the post-INF problem and for preventing a serious escalation in the rocket sphere", Zakharova said.

    These developments are unfolding amid an absence of clear signs from the new US administration and from the overwhelming majority of Washington's allies in NATO, the spokeswoman continued.

    "We certainly do not shut the door for dialogue, but taking into consideration the unfolding situation, we do not rule out that Russia will be forced to increasingly shift its focus to a military and technical response to the emerging missile threats", Zakharova warned.

    In 2019, the United States pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and proceeded to test a new generation of ground-based medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Several media outlets have already reported that the US Defence Department is looking to beef up its Indo-Pacific presence with a network of ground-based missiles at military facilities in the region.

    Last month, London announced plans to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal from 180 deployed warheads to 260 deployed warheads by 2030, saying that smaller deployment was "no longer possible" due to a "developing range of technological and doctrinal threats".

    The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan. The treaty banned the development, construction, or deployment of ground-based missiles in the 500km to 5,500km range. In 2019, Donald Trump terminated it, leaving just the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the nations. Washington agreed to extend New Start until February 2026 after months of pressure by the Russian side to do so.

    Tags:
    escalation, missile defense, United Kingdom, US
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