In Tit-For-Tat, Russia Suspends INF Treaty; Putin Slams US “Demolishing” Global Security

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has effectively collapsed following the US announcing Friday that it’s suspending all obligations under the treaty. Predictably Moscow’s response has been swift, with President Vladimir Putin saying in a meeting with his foreign and defense ministers that Russia will now pursue missile development previously banned under its terms.

Putin said “ours will be a mirror response” in a tit-for-tat move that the Russian president ultimately blames on Washington’s years-long “systematic” undermining of the agreement.

“Our US partners say that they are ceasing their participation in the treaty, and we are doing the same,” the Russian president said“They say that they are doing research and testing [on new weapons] and we will do the same thing.”

Crucially, however, he noted that there were no plans to deploy short and mid-range missiles to Europe unless the US does it first — a worst nightmare scenario that has rattled European leaders ever since talk began from Trump that the 1987 treaty could be scrapped.

Putin still seemed to allow some degree space for last minute concessions as “still on the table” possibly in line with the Trump administration’s desire to modernize and update a new treaty taking into account new technological and geopolitical realities, such as China’s ballistic missile capabilities.

“Let’s wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic, which is extremely important for us, them, and the entire world,” Putin said. But also lashing out during the press conference that followed the meeting with top officials Putin described:

Over many years, we have repeatedly suggested staging new disarmament talks, on all types of weapons. Over the last few years, we have seen our initiatives not supported. On the contrary, pretexts are constantly sought to demolish the existing system of international security.

Specifically he and FM Sergei Lavrov referenced not only Trump’s threats to quit the agreement, which heightened in December, but accusations leveled from Washington that the Kremlin was in violation. The White House has now affirmed the bilateral historic agreement signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan will be suspended for 180 days. Lavrov insisted that Moscow “attempted to do everything we could to rescue the treaty.”

This included “unprecedented steps going far beyond our obligations,” Lavrov said, and noted that part of Washington’s “systematic” attempts to undermine the treaty included “testing drones that matched the characteristics” of ground-based cruise missiles banned in the treaty, as well as installing “MK 41 launching systems for the defense shield in Europe that can be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles without any modification.”

Putin noted further in the midst of Lavrov’s remarks, “This is a direct a violation of the INF.” And Lavrov also added, “Such launchers have already been completed in Romania, more are scheduled to be put into service in Poland and Japan.”

Alarmingly, Putin concluded his remarks by saying Washington could be imperiling in the long term the landmark New START treaty, set to expire in 2021.

via zerohedge

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