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US missile defense facilities in Europe located within Russia's reach, says commander

Aegis Ashore missile facility went into operation at the Deveselu military base in Romania in May 2016

MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. Missile defense facilities of the United States in Europe are located within a reach of Russia’s effective striking forces, Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev said in an interview with Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.

"We must not forget that the European missile defense facilities are located within the reach of other [not nuclear] effective striking means of our Armed Forces," Karakayev replied to a question regarding the deployment of US missile defense facilities in Romania and Poland.

Late last month Russian Deputy Feoreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that The deployment of the US Aegis Ashore systems as ballistic missile defense infrastructure in Europe is a direct breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

An Aegis Ashore missile facility went into operation at the Deveselu military base in Romania in May 2016. The facility comprises the ballistic missile defense control center and mobile Mk-41 batteries with SM-3 interceptors. They are serviced by 200 US servicemen. SM-3 missile interceptor batteries are scheduled to go in operation in Poland in 2020 under the Aegis Ashore program.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated on many occasions that the deployment of Aegis Ashore land-based ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe is Washington’s breach of its commitments under the INF Treaty.

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that his country would quit the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly in breach of that agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov described this as a dangerous move. Washington was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. In the meantime, London came out in support of the United States and NATO placed the responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia, because in its opinion Moscow had apparently violated the treaty.

The INF Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 and took effect on June 1, 1988. It outlawed deployed and non-deployed intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-based missiles.

In recent years, Washington has repeatedly alleged Russia was in breach of the agreement. Moscow emphatically dismissed the charges and countered them with its own claims over the United States’ non-compliance.