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Analyst explains what US sanctions against Russia might mean for INF treaty

An expert does not rule out the possibility US might quit the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty

MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. The adoption of new sanctions and counter-sanctions may cause the severing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia, the director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Valery Garbuzov, said on Thursday in the wake of the latest statements by the US leader and the adoption of a new package of anti-Russian sanctions.

"Negative developments in Russian-US relations have approached critical mass," he said. "Taking any further measures and counter-measures against each other would be tantamount to driving the relations into a dead end where the severing of diplomatic relations may follow. This is most dangerous, because their restoration will then be the task of a different generation of politicians and statesmen both on the US and Russian side."

Garbuzov said the US leader was forced to sign a new package of sanctions into law.

"The sole alternative Trump might have opted for was dismissing the bill for revision, but the current situation as it is, even if he refused to sign it, Congress would have easily overturned the presidential veto," he said.

Garbuzov believes that Trump reasonably enough blamed the worsening of relations with Russia on the legislative branch of power, because "it was Congress and not the administration that initiated the bill."

"A majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted for it," Garbuzov said. "The situation in the United States as it is, the leverage of power is in the hands of the Congress, which gained initiative in such matters as sanctions, the tightening of measures against Russia and blocking the president’s powers."

Trump on August 2 signed into law a package of measures tightening US sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. In part, the law authorized the existing sanctions against Russia and reserved an opportunity for new ones, including those towards energy sector companies.

US may quit INF treaty

As he dwelt on Washington’s further likely steps, Garbuzov did not rule out the possibility US might quit the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty. "It is quite possible something like this may happen," he said. "The chances of building constructive, pragmatic Russian-US relations are waning. Against this backdrop anything can happen, including walkout from the INF treaty."

Earlier, the US media said Congress was probing into the possibility of making the Pentagon begin the production of intermediate range missiles in violation of the INF treaty, which may trigger another spiral of tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Both houses of the US Congress are holding debates that boil down to how to make the US Armed Forces start the production of intermediate range missiles outlawed under the 1987 treaty.

The US legislators argue that Russia itself had allegedly violated that agreement and time was ripe for Washington to retaliate. This approach does have its opponents in Washington, who are certain that such a move by the US might considerably increase the risk of a nuclear confrontation at a time when relations between the two states are at a critically low level.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said that Russia remained committed to the INF treaty and expected the United States would comply with its own obligations, too.