Russia urges moratorium on missile deployment after US quits INF treaty

Russia on Friday called on the United States to implement a moratorium on deploying intermediate-range nuclear missiles, as Washington was officially dropping a major Cold War-era arms treaty.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on August 2 that the U.S. had formally withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

“We have suggested to the U.S. and other NATO members to consider announcing a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles,” deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS news agency.

“This moratorium would be comparable to one already announced by Vladimir Putin, saying that if the United States does not deploy this equipment in certain regions, then Russia will also refrain from doing so,” he added.

Pompeo on Friday said Moscow bore “sole responsibility” for the INF’s death, while the Russian foreign ministry said it was the “initiative of the U.S. side.”

Washington has long accused Moscow of violating the INF deal, a charge Russia denies.

After years of complaining to Russia about the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile system, the U.S. announced in February it would pull out of the INF in August unless Moscow backed down.

Putin announced in March that Russia would also quit the treaty. 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.

Ryabkov also questioned NATO promises not to deploy nuclear missiles in Europe.

“So far, NATO members have assured us that there are no plans regarding the possible deployment of such nuclear equipment,” he said.

“But such assurances cannot be taken for granted … the Alliance has repeatedly violated its own promises in the past and changed its own plans.”

With reporting from AFP

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