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US may have stepped up long-range missiles deployment to Romania — Russian General Staff

If so, Pentagon's actions fall short of the INF Treaty

MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. The United States may have stepped up preparations for the deployment of long-range missiles to Romania without waiting for legal procedures concerning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty to complete, Head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff, Major General Andrei Sterlin said in his address to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) on Thursday.

"It is possible that the Pentagon has decided to step up facilities preparations without waiting for legal procedures concerning the INF Treaty to complete," Sterlin said.

According to him, the United States has rejected Russia’s initiatives to resolve the situation surrounding the Treaty.

The Major General pointed out that the US continued to boost its missile defense capabilities. "As far as these weapons are concerned, the US tried for decades to convince us that its missile defense plans aimed to counter the limited missile threats from North Korea and Iran and would not affect Russia’s deterrence capability. Today, Washington doesn’t deny that the global missile defense system is targeted against Russia," Sterlin emphasized.

INF: from inception to suspension

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

In December 2018, the United States demanded that Russia dismantle the 9M729 missile, which, according to Washington, violates the Treaty. In response, Moscow said that the technical specifications of the missile fell within the limits set by the document. However, the US and other NATO states ignored information about the missile that Russia presented at a briefing for military attaches.

On February 1, 2019, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russia returns to "real and verifiable" compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue.

Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4. On July 3, the head of state signed the decree into law after it had been approved by both houses of parliament.