Russia officially suspends INF Treaty with US

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Moscow’s participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty, following a similar move by the United States.

In a statement on Monday, the Kremlin said the suspension would last until the US “ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates”.

In February, Washington gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was established as a major safeguard against nuclear war. 

The move by US President Donald Trump set the stage for the bilateral pact’s termination in six months.

Washington accuses Moscow of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the treaty that ban the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles that have a range between 500km and 5,500km.

US officials have also expressed concerns that China, which is not party to the pact, was gaining a significant military advantage in Asia by deploying large numbers of missiles with ranges beyond the treaty’s limit.

Russia has denied any breaches, instead, charging that it was the US that had flouted the pact by deploying missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe that could fire cruise missiles instead of interceptors.

Washington rejects the claim.

The collapse of the treaty has stoked fears of a replay of a Cold War-era European missile crisis during the 1980s, when the US and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent.

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Putin has previously said Russia would seek to develop medium-range missiles, but would not deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so.

NATO has supported the US’s decision to withdraw from the pact, but many European leaders have voiced fears over the consequences of its demise.

China has also urged Russia and the US to preserve the treaty.

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/russia-officially-suspends-inf-treaty-190304143410145.html

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