MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. The United States is getting ready to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with Italy’s Il Giornale daily published on Wednesday.
"The United States is getting ready to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russia’s alleged violations of the treaty as the reason," he said.
Shoigu stressed that Washington’s allegations were groundless as there were no facts to prove them. At the same time, in his words, the United States was blatantly violating the INF Treaty by deploying the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, capable of launching Tomahawk missiles, to Europe. "Nearly all of Russia’s European territory is within their range," Shoigu pointed out.
In late June, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Washington was making preparations for pulling out of the INF Treaty. According to him, the United States is creating potential that will make it possible "to take a long stride forward and, in fact, to go beyond the bounds established by the INF Treaty."
The US Senate earlier passed a defense policy bill that provides the country’s authorities with the right to quit the INF Treaty over Russia’s alleged violations of it.
The Russian defense minister also said that in light of NATO's eastward expansion, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) had actually lost its meaning for Moscow. Shoigu noted that in 2002, Washington had withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and started deploying missile defenses near Russia’s borders.