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Kremlin vows to respond to US pullout from INF by measures to restore military balance

The breaking of the INF Treaty’s provisions forces Russia to take measures on ensuring its own security, Peskov said

MOSCOW, October 22. /TASS/. Russia’s possible response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) will be measures on restoring military balance, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

"The breaking of the INF Treaty’s provisions forces Russia to take measures on ensuring its own security," Peskov said, noting that in the future Washington would start directly developing the systems banned under the treaty.

"If this system is developed, steps from other countries, and in this case of Russia, on restoring balance in this sphere are needed," he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated this many times, Peskov noted.

The Kremlin spokesman stressed that the US is in violation of the treaty, while Russia remains committed to the document. "President Putin on various occasions has rejected all accusations against Russia pertaining to violations of the INF Treaty," he said.

Russia has provided evidence at various levels that Washington eroded the basis and key provisions of the treaty by "installing anti-missiles, which can be both interceptors and also short and medium-range missiles, using combat drones, which are de facto nothing else than short and medium-range missiles," he said.

"We absolutely disagree that Russia violates the INF Treaty," Peskov said. "Russia was and remains committed to this treaty’s provisions."

The procedure for withdrawing from the INF Treaty takes nearly half a year, and so this is an issue of "the day after tomorrow," Peskov said, noting that the US plans to leave the treaty arouse serious concerns.

On October 20, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly violating the terms of the agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov branded this as a dangerous move, while Berlin and Beijing also criticized the US plans.

Meanwhile, London voiced support for the US, while NATO held Russia responsible for Trump’s decision saying that "allies believe that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty."

The INF Treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 in Washington, DC and took effect on June 1, 1988. 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.

In 2014, the United States accused Russia of developing a missile with an operational range of 500 to 5,500 km. US media outlets reported that the missile was codenamed 9M729 (NATO reporting name: SSC-8). Since then, the US has repeated this claim more than once. Russia strongly dismissed it and struck back at the US with counterclaims that America had violated the deal. Moscow accused Washington of developing missiles, which are tested at a range prohibited by the treaty and deploying missile defense elements, which may be used for launching short- and intermediate-range missiles.