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US has violated INF Treaty since 1999, Lavrov tells Putin

The minister emphasized that Moscow has tried "to do everything to save the INF Treaty

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. The United States that has announced suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) due to Russia’s alleged violations, has breached the provisions of the agreement since 1999, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

"According to our information, the United States started violating that undated treaty (INF, came into force in 1988 - TASS) in 1999 when it began trials of combat unmanned flying vehicles with specifications similar to those of ground-launched cruise missiles banned by the Treaty," he said. "Later it started using target missiles, ballistic target missiles, for testing its missile defense system, whereas starting 2014 it began deploying in Europe launching pads for its positioning areas of missile defense - Mk 41 launching pads, which may absolutely be used without any changes and to launch Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles," Lavrov noted.

"That is a direct violation of the Treaty," he said, adding that "such systems have already been deployed in Romania, are being prepared for deployment in Poland, as well as in Japan."

The minister emphasized that Moscow has tried "to do everything to save the INF Treaty, considering its importance for preserving strategic stability in Europe and globally." He mentioned the fact that Russia had invited American representatives to the talks on that issue in Geneva on January 15.

"We offered unprecedented transparency measures that go far beyond our liabilities on that Treaty to convince the Americans that we do not violate that important document," he said, adding that the US side "torpedoed those proposals and in response put forward another ultimatum."

According to Lavrov, all further efforts to mediate strategic stability also failed.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Washington would suspend its liabilities under the INF Treaty starting February 2 and would quit it within six months if Russia fails to comply with its demands. The US accused Russia of violating the treaty for the first time in July 2014. Since then, Washington has been repeating its claims on many occasions, while Moscow has been rejecting them and advancing counter-claims concerning the implementation of the treaty by the US side.

The INF Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. It covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).