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Russia-NATO Council meeting to focus on INF Treaty issue — Russian mission

The meeting is scheduled for January 25

BRUSSELS, January 22. /TASS/. US plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) will be the focus of attention at the next ambassadorial meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, the Russian mission to NATO said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Preparations continue for the next meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, which will focus on the INF Treaty situation," the statement reads. "We expect the meeting to take place in the near future," the mission added.

NATO announced earlier that the meeting was scheduled to be held on January 25. NATO stressed that the meeting would be a continuation of political dialogue with Russia in accordance with a decision made by NATO leaders.

On January 15, Russia and the US held inter-agency consultations on the INF Treaty in Geneva. Ryabkov said following the meeting that the US had not even tried to bring the positions of the parties closer, making it clear that it was determined to implement its plans to destroy the Treaty.

The US State Department's Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson, who led the US delegation, in turn, once again accused Russia of non-compliance with the document and said that Washington would start the process of pulling out of the INF Treaty on February 2, unless Moscow dismantled its 9M729 missile, which, according to Washington, violates the Treaty.

A meeting of NATO defense ministers is scheduled to take place in Brussels on February 13-14.

INF Treaty situation

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). In the recent years, Washington has been repeatedly accusing Russia of violating the treaty. Moscow strongly dismissed the accusations and voiced its own claims concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

On October 20, 2018, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would pull out of the INF Treaty because Russia had allegedly violated it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said it was a dangerous move. Berlin and Beijing criticized Washington, while London voiced its support for the US, and NATO laid the blame for Trump’s decision on Russia.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on December 4, 2018, that Washington would suspend its obligations under the Treaty unless Moscow returned to "full and verifiable" compliance within 60 days. On December 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Washington had not provided evidence proving Moscow’s violations of the document. He also said that Russia called for maintaining the Treaty but if the United States pulled out of it, Moscow would have to give an appropriate response.