Putin Says if U.S. Develops Banned Missiles, so Will Russia

Putin Says if U.S. Develops Banned Missiles, so Will Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting Tuesday that Washington would suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days due to Russia's alleged "cheating".

"Our nations have a choice".

NATO and the U.S. say the 9M279 - also known by the designation SSC-8 - violates the INF treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

US President Donald Trump has previously threatened to pull out of the bilateral pact.

On Tuesday, the USA gave Russian Federation a 60-day ultimatum to admit to violating the treaty and threatened to pull out of the pact if it did not comply.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was "essential to act in a firm and united way", warning Moscow it would bear the responsibility if the treaty collapsed. In a televised address, Putin said Washington was accusing Moscow of violating the 1987 nuclear arms control treaty to be able to exit the agreement. Russian Federation says the range of the new system does not exceed 310 miles. "It is now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF treaty", foreign ministers from the 29-member alliance said in a joint statement after talks in Brussels.

But on Monday, the United States leader said he wants talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin "to head off a major and uncontrollable Arms Race".

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 up to 5,500 kilometres.

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Russian Federation has repeatedly denied breaking the Cold War treaty. In the past, Russian Federation has threatened to target European countries that hosted USA missile defenses.

Some US lawmakers raised the alarm that the Trump administration's move threatens to trigger an arms race between the United States and Russian Federation.

"Instead of complaining all the time about the United States walking away from the treaty, the Europeans should spend a bit of time looking at why the United States is withdrawing from the treaty", he said.

"Its range makes it a direct menace to Europe", he told a new conference after a meeting with his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts.

Analysts say the pact's goal when signed was to prevent a buildup of so-called "tactical nukes" by USA and Russian forces in nations across both Eastern and Western Europe.

The NATO partners on Tuesday also held talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to pull out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty if the US does the same.

Klimkin welcomed the political support he received in Brussels, but said: "We shouldn't just stay on the level of declarations, however strong declarations are".

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