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Kremlin: Pentagon’s missile test indicates pre-planned strategy to enable INF’s collapse

The US Department of Defense said on Monday that on August 18, the US "conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California"

MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. A missile test carried out by the United States points to Washington’s pre-planned strategy to enable the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"As for the United States’ test of a conventional cruise missile, the news came while President Putin and President Macron were holding talks yesterday. Putin commented on it, saying that such tests only proved that from the very start, the Americans were determined to derail the INF Treaty and were making preparations for it," Peskov pointed out.

The Kremlin spokesman emphasized that "several weeks and even months are not enough to make preparations for such a test." According to him, it once again shows that it was the United States and not Russia that was responsible for the collapse of the INF Treaty.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday that on August 18, the US "conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California." "The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," the Pentagon added.

INF Treaty issue

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applied 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.

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 on February 2.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He 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.

On August 2, Washington formally withdrew from the INF Treaty and the Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, officially confirmed that the Treaty had been terminated at the United States’ initiative.