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Russia formally withdraws from INF nuclear treaty

March 4, 2019

Russia said it has suspended the arms treaty, a month after tit-for-tat threats bounced between Moscow and Washington. The Trump administration has accused Russia of violating the Reagan-era accord.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M.Blinov

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday officially ended Russia's participation in the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), after the United States first announced it would abandon the deal.

Putin "signed a decree regarding the suspension of Russia's participation in the agreement between the USSR and the US," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Read more: What is the INF nuclear treaty?

Russia announced last month it was suspending the treaty after the US said it would start a process to withdraw from the deal within six months because of violations by Moscow.

Russia, US accuse each other of violating treaty

Moscow and Washington have accused one another of breaching the INF treaty made between the US and the former Soviet Union in 1987. Russia denies breaking the accord, as does the US.

The accord was negotiated by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ended a superpower buildup of warheads that had frightened Europe.

Read more: INF Treaty: Would US dropout begin an arms race with China?

It banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles) and addressed Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals, but put no restrictions on other major military actors such as China.

NATO has said that US allies "fully support" its withdrawal from the pact, insisting that Russia's 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems violate the treaty.

Read more: Europeans aghast as end to INF treaty looms

Some members of the European Union have expressed concern over the consequences of the treaty's demise and called on Russia to address concerns before the US formally leaves in August.

law/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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