MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Washington has in fact quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, President Vladimir Putin told the annual news conference on Thursday.
"Now we hear speculation about INF Treaty-related problems," he said. "It looks like conditions are being set, and information as well as propaganda work is underway for the United States to walk out on that treaty. Even more so, since in fact it has already dropped the agreement." "The more so, since in fact it has already dropped the agreement," the Russian leader said, adding that the United States had deployed Aegis Ashore missile interceptors that could be easily replaced with intermediate missile launchers.
"As for New START, it’s all the same," Putin said. "We are being told that they (the United States) find it not beneficial and unnecessary. There have been such speculations. If that happens, if the United States once again unilaterally quits it (New START), it will be very bad for international security."
Putin pointed to the fact that Russia had never withdrawn "from basic treaties that constitute the groundwork of international security."
"We have not quit the ABM (anti-ballistic missile) Treaty. The United States did that unilaterally. If it goes on like this, there will be nothing bad about that. We have no intention of being the first to withdraw from anywhere," Putin confirmed. He promised that Russia would be able to ensure its security "without getting involved in an arms race or ruining its budget."
Putin has warned the US against unilaterally withdrawing from the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty).
"We hear that they [the United States] seem to regard it as disadvantageous and unnecessary. There are such talks. If this happens, and if the United States again unilaterally withdraws from it (the New START Treaty), this will be very bad for international security," Putin said at his annual news conference.
"But we do not intend to withdraw from any treaty. That is why, we will pay attention to the development of the army and the navy, without being drawn into an arms race and without decimating the budget," the Russian leader said.
The United States for the first time accused Russia of being in breach of the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty in July 2014. Washington has since repeated this allegation more than once. Moscow strongly disagreed with that, saying that US claims lacked specifics. Russia has put forward its counterclaims against the United States regarding compliance with the INF treaty.
The INF Treaty was concluded in Washington on December 8, 1987 and took effect on June 1, 1988. In 1992, in the wake of the Soviet Union’s breakup the treaty turned multilateral. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine joined the United States and Russia as co-signatories (until the full elimination of their own missiles in question). The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles. The Soviet Union eliminated 1,846 missiles, and the United States, 846.