The United States has suspended compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. Washington said it would pull out of the landmark 1987 arms control deal in half a year if Moscow does not stop violating the provisions of the pact, US Secretary Mike Pompeo said. Mr. Pompeo said that the administration would provide a formal notice to Russia in such a case. US President Donald Trump said earlier that “for too long” Russia has been violating the treaty “with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad”.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented that the US withdrawal is not a question of “Russian guilt”, but the “strategy of the United States is to get out of its international legal obligations in different areas”. An American exit from the deal has been anticipated for months and follows repeated accusations by the United States that Moscow had been violating the treat – a charge that Moscow denies. The US administration has also expressed concerns that China, which is not a party to the treaty, has been gaining major military advantages in Asia by deploying a large number of missiles with ranges that go beyond what is defined in the INF.
The 1987 deal between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics required destruction of the parties’ ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers as well as support equipment within three years after the treaty came into force. The weapons that the agreement eliminated were seen as particularly dangerous since they could take only a few minutes to reach their targets, leaving little time for political leaders to think of a response.