MOSCOW - Russia opposes the destruction of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but it will be forced to react in a proper manner if it happens, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, emphasizing that the United States had decided to withdraw from the treaty long before it announced this decision publicly.

Putin told reporters that the US Congress had doled out money for the creation of intermediate-range and short-range missiles, banned within the treaty, before Washington announced its intention to withdraw from the INF. “This means that the decision has long been made, but it has been made sneakily. They thought we wouldn’t notice this, but this is already in the Pentagon’s budget — the creation of these missiles. But only after it they announced publicly that they were leaving,” Putin said.

“As the next step, they started to think whom they could shuffle blame onto. Well, to say ‘Russia is to blame’ is the easiest and the most habitual thing for an ordinary Western person. This is not true, we are against the destruction of the treaty, but if it happens, we will react accordingly,” Putin added.