Cold War 2.0? Russia suspends nuke treaty after US decision to pull out

MOSCOW: Following in the footsteps of the US, Russia will abandon a centerpiece nuclear arms treaty but will only deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles if Washington does so, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday. 

US President Donald Trump accused Moscow on Friday of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity”' by deploying banned missiles. Trump said in a statement that the US will “move forward” with developing its own military response options to Russia’s new land-based cruise missiles that could target Western Europe. Moscow has strongly denied any breaches and accused Washington of making false accusations in order to justify its pullout. 

Russia


The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent. Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing as they only take a few minutes to reach their targets, leaving no time for decision-makers and raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning. 

After the US gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the treaty in six months, Putin said Russia would do the same. He ordered the development of new land-based intermediate-range weapons, but emphasized that Russia won't deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so. 

“We will respond quid pro quo,” Putin said. “Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty, and we will do the same. They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly.” 

The US has accused Russia of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the pact that ban production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres. Trump's move also reflected his administration's view that the pact was an obstacle to efforts needed to counter intermediate-range missiles deployed by China, which isn’t part of the treaty. 

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the treaty would terminate in six months unless Russia accepts US demands that it verifiably destroy the cruise missiles that Washington claims are in violation. NATO allies have strongly backed Washington and urged Moscow to save the treaty by returning to compliance. 

But Russia has categorically rejected the U.S. claims of violation, charging that the missile, which is part of the Iskander-M missile system, has a maximum range of 480km. Russian officials claimed the US assertions about the alleged breach of the pact by Moscow were intended to shift the blame for the pact’s demise to Russia. 

The Russian defence monistry on Saturday released a satellite image of what it described as new production facilities at the US missile maker Raytheon’s plant in Tucson, Arizona, noting that their expansion began in 2017 as the Congress authorized spending for the development of intermediate-range missiles “The character and the timing of the works provide an irrefutable proof that the US administration had decided to pull out of the INF treaty years before making unfounded claims of Russian violations,” it said. 

Putin has argued it makes no sense for Russia to deploy a ground-based cruise missile violating the treaty because it has such weapons on ships and aircraft, which aren’t banned by the pact. He said Moscow remains open to talks, but added it would be up to the US to take the first step. “Let’s wait until our partners are mature enough to conduct a substantive dialogue on those issues.”

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/cold-war-2-0-russia-suspends-nuke-treaty-after-us-decision-to-pull-out/articleshow/67813552.cms

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