Russia has suspended the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, after the United States announced it would withdraw from the arms control pact, accusing Moscow of violations.
The United States announced on Friday it will withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the 1987 pact.
It would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Russia denies violating the treaty.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles was a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union (and later its successor state the Russian Federation).
Signed in Washington, D.C. by President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 8 December 1987, the treaty was approved by the United States Senate on 27 May 1988 and ratified by Reagan and Gorbachev on 1 June 1988.
The INF Treaty eliminated all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short medium-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range). The treaty did not cover air- or sea-launched missiles. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.
On Saturday, Washington said it had formally notified Russia and other treaty parties of the United States’ intent and suspended its obligations under the INF.
“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin said during a televised meeting with foreign and defense ministers.
Putin said Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the United States of being slow to respond to such moves.
“We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue. We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives,” Putin said
The row over the treaty has drawn a strong reaction from Europe and China.
European nations fear the treaty’s collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of U.S. nuclear missiles stationed on the continent.
China urged the United States on Saturday to resolve its differences with Russia through dialogue.
During the meeting with Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of violating the INF and other arms deals, including the non-proliferation treaty.
Putin said Russia would not deploy its weapons in Europe and other regions unless the United States did so.