Russia Exits Key Nuclear Pact, Blaming US Aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during the opening ceremony for the 29th Winter Universiade games at the Platinum Arena in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on March 2, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

(CN) — Formalizing a long-brewing threat, Russia on Monday ended its participation in a nuclear-arms treaty that the country has been accused of snubbing for months.

Russia’s departure from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty comes over a month after the United States demanded that Moscow return to compliance or the deal would terminate this summer.

Adopted in 1987, the INF pact bans production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 310 to 3,410 miles. Russia and the United States entered into the pact during the Cold War to diminish the chance of a global nuclear conflict as both countries deployed intermediate-range missiles.

Though the U.S. asserts that Russia has been developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates the INF’s provisions, Russia has said it is the other way around.

“I order … to suspend the implementation of the treaty between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America on the elimination of their medium-range and shorter-range missiles from December 8, 1987, until the United States rectifies violations of its commitments under the said Treaty or until its termination,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday. 

Putin’s decree followed a meeting in Vienna this morning between the head of the Russian military’s general staff, Valery Gerasimov, and the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford.

Russia claims that the U.S. breached the INF with its development of missile defense facilities in eastern Europe. Putin also warned that Russia is prepared to retaliate by deploying new weapons should the United States  fire off any missiles in Europe.

President Donald Trump has argued that America’s participation in the pact hurts its ability to counter intermediate-range missiles deployed by China, which is not party to the treaty.

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