Putin re­jects claim Rus­sia vi­o­lat­ing treaty

▶ US set to exit medium-range nu­clear mis­sile pact within 60 days

Global Times - - WORLD -

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Wed­nes­day dis­missed US claims that Rus­sia is vi­o­lat­ing a ma­jor Cold War treaty lim­it­ing mid-range nu­clear arms, as a se­nior gen­eral lashed out at Wash­ing­ton’s at­tempts to “con­tain” Moscow.

The tense rhetoric came a day after Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Wash­ing­ton would with­draw from the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces treaty (INF) within 60 days if Rus­sia does not dis­man­tle mis­siles that the US claims breach the deal.

“First the Amer­i­can side stated its in­ten­tion to with­draw from the treaty... then it be­gan to look for the jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for do­ing so,” Putin said in com­ments car­ried by Rus­sian news agen­cies.

“The pri­mary jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is that we are vi­o­lat­ing some­thing. At the same time, as usual, no ev­i­dence of vi­o­la­tions on our part has been pro­vided,” he said.

The com­ments echoed ear­lier state­ments from the Rus­sian for­eign min­istry, which dis­missed the ac­cu­sa­tions against Moscow as “ground­less.”

In Oc­to­ber, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sparked global con­cern by declar­ing the US would pull out of the deal and build up Amer­ica’s nu­clear stock­pile “un­til peo­ple come to their senses.”

But on Mon­day, Trump said he wants talks with Putin “to head off a ma­jor and un­con­trol­lable arms race.”

Krem­lin spokesper­son Dmitry Peskov said facts had been dis­torted “in or­der to cam­ou­flage the true goal of the US with­draw­ing from the treaty.”

Mean­while, the Rus­sian Army Chief of Staff Vasily Gerasi­mov said that Moscow would in­crease the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of its ground-based strate­gic nu­clear arms.

“One of the main de­struc­tive fac­tors com­pli­cat­ing the in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion is how the US is act­ing as it at­tempts to re­tain its dom­i­nant role in the world,” he said in com­ments re­leased by the de­fense min­istry.

“It is for th­ese pur­poses that Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies are tak­ing com­pre­hen­sive, con­certed mea­sures to con­tain Rus­sia and dis­credit its role in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.”

Signed in 1987 by then US pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan and Mikhail Gor­bachev, the last Soviet leader, the INF re­solved a cri­sis over Soviet nu­clear-tipped bal­lis­tic mis­siles tar­get­ing Western capitals.

But it was a bi­lat­eral treaty be­tween the US and the then Soviet Union, so it puts no re­stric­tions on other ma­jor mil­i­tary ac­tors.

Pom­peo said at a meet­ing with fel­low NATO for­eign min­is­ters on Tues­day that there was no rea­son why the US “should con­tinue to cede this cru­cial mil­i­tary ad­van­tage” to ri­val pow­ers.

NATO said it was now “up to Rus­sia” to save the treaty.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has com­plained of Moscow’s de­ploy­ment of No­va­tor 9M729 mis­siles, which Wash­ing­ton says fall un­der the treaty’s ban on mis­siles that can travel dis­tances of be­tween 500 and 5,500 kilo­me­ters.

The nu­clear-ca­pa­ble Rus­sian cruise mis­siles are mo­bile and hard to de­tect and can hit cities in Europe with lit­tle or no warn­ing, ac­cord­ing to NATO, dra­mat­i­cally chang­ing the se­cu­rity cal­cu­lus on the con­ti­nent.

The State Depart­ment of the US said in a state­ment Tues­day that it had pro­vided Moscow with “more than enough in­for­ma­tion for Rus­sia to en­gage sub­stan­tively on the is­sue.”

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