In Tit-For-Tat Move, Putin Announces Russian Suspension of INF Treaty
(Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; issued Feb 02, 2019)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia has suspended its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, one day after the United States made a similar announcement.

Putin met in Moscow on February 2 with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss Russia's reaction to the long-expected U.S. move.

"We will do as follows," Putin said during the meeting. "We will come up with a tit-for-tat response. Our American partners have announced the suspension of their participation in the treaty, so we will suspend as well."

On February 2, Washington said it had formally notified Russia and other treaty parties of the United States' intent and suspended its obligations under the INF.

Putin ordered Lavrov not to begin any new INF talks with the United States, saying Moscow will wait to see if Washington responds to any of Russia's earlier proposals on saving the agreement.

"Over the past several years, we have seen that our partners do not support our initiatives," Putin said. "On the contrary, they are constantly looking for certain pretexts to dismantle the global security system."

Meanwhile, he said the Defense Ministry will begin developing new nuclear-capable missiles, including supersonic ones.

He added that Russia should avoid being drawn into a new and costly arms race and said Moscow would not deploy any new weapons unless the United States did so first.

Lavrov said he believes the U.S. suspension of the INF Treaty jeopardizes other arms-control agreements, including the New START pact, which is set to expire in 2021.

Lavrov also accused the United States of violating the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by participating in nuclear-weapons exercises with NATO-member countries that are not among the five nuclear-armed states under the NPT.

"That is an outright violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty," Lavrov told Putin.

The foreign minister also said Washington had "lost any interest" in the possibility of joining the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The U.S. State Department said in a statement on February 2 that the United States could not be restricted by the treaty while Russia violated it.

"The United States has concluded that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the Treaty arising from Russia's continued noncompliance have jeopardized the United States' supreme interests," the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Federation Council's International Relations Committee, said Washington had "taken another step toward [the world's] destruction."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty was part of "the strategy of the United States to get out of its international legal obligations in different areas."

Moscow's reaction comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that as a result of what he called years of Russian violations, Washington would no longer abide by the key Cold War-era arms-control pact.

"For years, Russia has violated terms of the INF Treaty without remorse," Pompeo said in a news briefing. "To this day, Russia remains in material breach of obligations."

"The United States will therefore suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective February 2," Pompeo said.

"We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty effective in six months, pursuant to Article 15 of the treaty."

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 and bans the development, production, and deployment of ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The agreement was the first of its kind to eliminate an entire class of missiles.

Pompeo told reporters in Washington that the United States remained open to arms-control negotiations with Russia.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a written statement saying that "we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other."

Moscow denies it has violated the treaty and has called on Washington to offer proof of its allegations. Foreign Minister Lavrov on February 2 countered that Washington had violated the treaty by developing combat drones with similar characteristics to the banned ground-based missiles. Putin said U.S. tests of missile-defense weapons also violated the INF agreement.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that China, which is not party to the INF, has gained a military advantage in Asia by deploying large numbers of missiles with ranges banned by the treaty.

Beijing on February 2 urged Moscow and Washington to come together to preserve the treaty.

"China opposes the United States' move to denounce the treaty and urges the U.S. and Russia to properly settle the differences through efficient dialogues," a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said.

NATO allies issued a statement saying they "fully support" the U.S. decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

"All NATO allies support the U.S. decision today to start the withdrawal process, but it will take six months before that process is completed," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the Associated Press.

"We continue, therefore, to call on Russia to come back into compliance and fully respect the INF Treaty,” he added.

The United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said he hoped Moscow and Washington use the six-month period to reach a new agreement.

"We have seen the announcement they made today," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "The secretary-general hopes that the parties will use these six months to resolve their differences. The INF is a very important part of arms-control architecture."

The U.S. action has been expected for months and was virtually assured after last-ditch talks in Beijing on January 31 between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson ended without agreement.

Washington and NATO accuse Russia of breaching the treaty by developing the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8.

The United States first publicly accused Moscow of violating the INF Treaty in 2014. After several years of fruitless talks, Washington began stepping up its rhetoric in late 2017, publicly identifying the missile in question and asserting that Russia had moved beyond testing and had begun deploying the systems.

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Statement on Russia's Failure to Comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
(Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organization; issued Feb 01, 2019)
1. Following nearly six years of U.S. and Allied engagement with Russia, on 4 December 2018, NATO Allies declared that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty, and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. Allies strongly supported the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty and called upon Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance.

2. Since that announcement, the United States and other Allies have remained open to dialogue, and have engaged Russia on its violation, including at a NATO-Russia Council meeting on 25 January 2019. Allies regret that Russia, as part of its broader pattern of behaviour, continues to deny its INF Treaty violation, refuses to provide any credible response, and has taken no demonstrable steps toward returning to full and verifiable compliance.

3. As a result, the United States is suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty in response to Russia’s material breach, and is providing the requisite six-month written notice to Treaty Parties of its withdrawal under Article XV of the INF Treaty. The United States is taking this action in response to the significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security posed by Russia’s covert testing, production, and fielding of 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems. Allies fully support this action.

4. Unless Russia honours its INF Treaty obligations through the verifiable destruction of all of its 9M729 systems, thereby returning to full and verifiable compliance before the U.S. withdrawal takes effect in six months, Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the Treaty.

5. NATO continues to closely review the security implications of Russian intermediate-range missiles and will continue to take steps necessary to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance’s overall deterrence and defence posture. We will continue to consult each other regularly with a view to ensuring our collective security.

6. Allies are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. Therefore, we will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment.

7. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible.

8. We urge Russia to use the remaining six months to return to full and verifiable compliance to preserve the INF Treaty.

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Russian Defence Ministry: US Started Production of Intermediate-Range Missiles Two Years Before It Accused Russia of Violating the INF Treaty
(Source: Russian Ministry of Defence; issued Feb 02, 2019)
In Washington, two years before the public unproved accusations of Russia of alleged violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), they not only made a decision, but also began preparations for the production of intermediate-range missiles banned by the treaty.

Thus, according to irrefutable information available at the Russian Ministry of Defence, since June 2017 the enterprise of the Raytheon military-industrial corporation in the city of Tucson, Arizona, has launched a program of expansion and upgrade of production facilities in order to create medium and shorter-range missiles banned by the INF Treaty.

This plant is the largest diversified enterprise of the US space industry, producing almost all types of rocket weapons, including medium-range and short-range cruise missiles.

Over the past two years the space of the plant has increased by 44% - from 55,000 to 79,000 sq m, while the number of employees is about to rise by almost 2,000 people, according to official statements.

In November 2017, the US Congress allocated to the Pentagon the first tranche amounting to $ 58 million, directly pointing at the development of a land-based missile of intermediate range.

Thus, the work carried out irrefutably proves that the US administration decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty a few years before it started making public unfounded accusations against Russian of violating the Treaty.

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