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How Russia will respond with nuclear weapons to any US ballistic missile attack - Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russia will respond with nuclear weapons to any American attack using ballistic missiles launched from submarines.

Commenting on the U.S. report on supplying some ballistic missiles carried by U.S. submarines with low-strength nuclear warheads, Zakharova said that Russia considered this step ‘dangerous’ and ‘destabilizing.’

Zakharova slammed the U.S. move as "dangerous," an "element of destabilization" and a "purposeful blurring between non-strategic and strategic weapons," warning that it would lead to a "lower threshold and an increase in the threat of nuclear conflict."

“We see that what is happening is deliberately erasing the border between strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, and this increases the risk of the nuclear dispute,” she said, adding that this view is supported by some American scientists and members of Congress as well.

She emphasized that any attack using ballistic missiles launched from submarines, regardless of their specifications and the type of warheads that they are supplied, will be seen as a nuclear attack, and there will be an appropriate response to it.

She said: “Those wishing to talk about American nuclear capabilities … must realize that under the Russian military doctrine, such steps will be considered a reason for responding with nuclear weapons by Russia.”

This came in response to a report published on the State Department’s website, that the United States has developed low-power W76-2 nuclear warheads and supplied some Trident-2 ballistic missiles aboard submarines aimed to deter Russia's and China's nuclear power.

The US State Department said in a paper released last week that fitting the low-yield nuclear warheads to submarine-launched ballistic missiles would help counter potential new threats from Russia and China. It charged that Moscow in particular was pondering the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons as a way of coercion in a limited conflict — an assertion that Russia has repeatedly denied.

The State Department noted that the new supplemental warhead "reduces the risk of nuclear war by reinforcing extended deterrence and assurance."

U.S.-Russian differences on nuclear arms issues come as relations between Moscow and Washington are at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis and the accusations of Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Last year, both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The only U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement still standing is the New START treaty, which was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The pact limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify the compliance.

Russia has offered to extend the New START that expires in February 2021, while the Trump administration has pushed for a new arms control pact that would also include China. Moscow has described that idea as unfeasible, pointing at Beijing's refusal to negotiate any deal that would reduce its much smaller nuclear arsenal.

In a statement Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of signing the New START, the Russian Foreign Ministry hailed the treaty as an instrument that helps ensure predictability in the nuclear sphere and reaffirmed Moscow's offer to extend it without any preconditions.

BFN / AMN / DS

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