MOSCOW – Russia will suspend its participation in an arms control treaty in response to a move announced by the United States, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
Putin said in a meeting with his foreign and defense ministers that Russia would also suspend its participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) after the US government declared the same intention a day before.
“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin said during the televised meeting.
Putin’s comments came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday his country would suspend its compliance with the treaty from Saturday.
The INF Treaty was drawn up during the Cold War in a bid to eliminate short and medium-range conventional and nuclear missiles.
Putin also denied that Russia intended to start a new arms race with Washington.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was doing all it could to save the treaty, given its importance for strategic security in Europe and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said the US had infringed the deal for years and proposed work began on a hypersonic missile system.
Pompeo told the media Friday that Russia had violated the terms of the INF Treaty “for years” and “without remorse.”
“To this day, Russia remains in material breach of its treaty obligations, not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers,” he said.
He said the US had raised its concerns with the highest-ranking Russian officials “more than 30 times,” and warned that Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty put European and American lives at risk.
“The United States will, therefore, suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty, effective Feb. 2. We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty, effective in six months,” said the politician.
“We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it,” said Pompeo.