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Kremlin points to US missile-testing plans as proof Washington sought INF breakdown

The United States used systems that “de facto were in violation of the basic provisions of the INF Treaty", Peskov stressed

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Washington’s plans to test missiles banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are a “logical continuation” of its stance, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. 

"We [Russia] categorically disagree with any reproaches against us to the effect that we have not kept our word on this accord [the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty]. On the contrary, we demonstrated to all, using arguments and proof, that it is precisely the United States that became the source of dismantling this document since it in fact made breaches [of this treaty],” the Kremlin spokesman said. 

The United States used systems that “de facto were in violation of the basic provisions of the INF Treaty", Peskov stressed.

“It is the US and - not Russia - that violated the provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It is the US that included a provision on R&D on these missiles in the draft budget,” the Kremlin spokesman said. 

In Peskov’s opinion, “naturally, the R&D implementation is usually impossible without tests.” “That is why, this [the missile-testing plans] are a logical continuation of the situation,” the Russian presidential spokesman pointed out. 

ussian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated Moscow’s position on the INF, explaining that Russia was forced to suspend its participation in the Treaty in response to the US actions "when we entered the phase of harsh disagreements with the Americans on the INF."

The AP news agency reported on Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to hold tests this year of two types of missiles banned by the INF. In August, the Pentagon intends to test a cruise missile with a range of about 1,000 km, capable of flying at a low altitude. The missile can be deployed within 18 months.

Besides, in November the US intends to test a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000-4,000 km. The missile is unlikely to be deployed sooner than in five years, the news agency said.

According to AP, in both cases, these are the missiles that are not armed with nuclear warheads. "If Russia and the US were to reach a deal to rescue the INF treaty before August, these projects would not go forward," the news agency said.

INF Treaty

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 on many occasions had 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, 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. The US insists that Moscow should, first and foremost, eliminate its 9M729 ground-based cruise missile.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating 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.