Russia suspends participation in INF missile treaty

President Vladimir Putin on Monday, March 4 officially suspended Russia’s participation in a key Cold War-era arms treaty, after the U.S. first moved to ditch the INF deal.

Putin “signed a decree regarding the suspension of Russia’s participation in the agreement between the USSR and the U.S.,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The move was taken following “a violation of the United States of its obligations under the treaty,” it said.

Moscow and Washington have accused one another of breaching the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement concluded between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in 1987.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in February that Washington would start a process to withdraw from the deal within six months.

Putin responded by announcing Russia would suspend its involvement.

He said Russia would seek to develop medium-range missiles in response to what he said were similar projects in the U.S., raising the specter of a new arms race.

Brokered by U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF treaty ended a superpower buildup of warheads that had frightened Europe.

It banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km (300 to 3,400 miles).

The deal addressed Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals, but put no restrictions on other major military actors such as China.

NATO has said that U.S allies “fully support” its withdrawal from the pact, insisting that Russia’s 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems violate the treaty.

European leaders have voiced fears over the consequences of the treaty’s demise and called on Russia to address concerns before the U.S. formally leaves in August.

US withdrawal from INF treaty fires the starting pistol on a new arms race

With reporting from AFP

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