**EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: RESENDING VIDEO AND SCRIPT TO UPDATE RESTRICTIONS TO "NONE"** Russia has a message for the United States: deploy missiles in Europe, and we will respond in kind President Vladimir Putin threatened to deploy faster missiles, or move existing weapons closer to U.S. soil.
The comments came in his annual address to the nation on Wednesday (February 20), and marked his toughest remarks yet on a potential arms race, While Putin said Moscow was not seeking confrontation, he said Russia's reaction would be swift if Washington deployed any short or intermediate-range weapons.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "Russia will be forced to create and develop weapons, which can be used not only towards those territories that from which direct threats may be directed at us, but also towards those territories where centers of decision-making in employing rocket systems that are threatening to us." It comes just weeks after the U.S. withdrew from a landmark Cold War-era treaty, which banned either side from stationing certain land-based missiles in Europe.
Washington says Moscow violated that agreement.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING "If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance within the treaty within the six month period by verifiably destroying its INF violating missiles, their launchers and associated equipment the treaty will terminate." Russia denies any wrongdoing - but has followed suit and also quit the pact, accusing Washington of its own violations by making new missiles.
Putin has not announced new missile deployments, but said Russia was ready to retaliate if needed, while they continue to develop their own new weapons.
(SOUNDBITE) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "We can see that we are dealing with active, very talented people.
However, among the ruling class of the U.S. there are many of those who are overtly obsessed with the idea of their exceptionalism and (CONTINUES OVER SHOT OF AUDIENCE) superiority over the rest of the world.
Of course it is their right - to think the way they want to.
(CONTINUES OVER WIDE SHOT) But can they count?
I'm sure they can.
(APPLAUSE) Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing.
It is the only thing we ask for (CONTINUES IN SHOT).
Let them count first and only after that make decisions that pose additional serious threats to our country." It's the latest crack in Russia's deteriorating relationship with the U.S. and the West over a number of issues, including the war in Syria, Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine as well as allegations of it meddling with the presidential election in the U.S.