Russia retaliates against US exit from INF treaty

On the same day the U.S. announced it would withdraw from a Cold War era treaty which eliminated all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, Russia declared it had suspended its adherence in the same agreement.

A retaliatory gesture, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised address while alongside members of the Russian cabinet and its military:

“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well.”

The U.S. formally announced its intent to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Saturday, Feb. 2.  The Cold War era agreement banned all ground-based, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

Included in its announcement to withdraw from the treaty, the U.S. delivered an ultimatum to Moscow to return to full compliance with the 1987 treaty or face a dissolution of the agreement.

Both the U.S. and Russia have traded accusations each has violated the INF treaty.

But in a move concerning to the both Washington and the West over the dawn of a new arms race, Putin announced a short time later the Russian Federation had begun work on an entirely new missile defense system, which includes hypersonic missiles.  The U.S. State Department announced in December 2018 it would be starting the process of developing their own new intermediate-range missile systems.

Similarly, in a move which could jeopardize what remains of global participation in arms agreements, Putin also admitted he had instructed Russian diplomats and officials to avoid engaging U.S. officials in any form of disarmament talks.

However, despite Putin’s blunt talk and the shutting down of dialogue between the Kremlin and the White House, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured reporters Moscow’s abrupt suspension of the agreement did not certify a new arms race.

Responding on behalf of Moscow on Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists Russia welcomed President Trump’s willingness to formulate a new, wider agreement with global participation.

“When our American colleagues actually get to the point where they give us something concrete, we will look at this with interest and I hope in a positive way,” Rybakov said.

If either the U.S. or Russia eventually exits the INF treaty, it would become the second breakup of a Cold War pact.  The U.S. withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty agreement in 2002.


[AP] [Moscow Times] [Photo courtesy Global Village Space]

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