Russia will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, President Vladimir Putin said on
Saturday after the United States announced that it was withdrawing
from the agreement.
The United States said on Friday that it was withdrawing from the treaty with Russia, which dates to the waning years of the Cold War, amid accusations that Moscow is in violation of the deal.
"Our American partners have declared the suspension of their participation in the treaty, and we also suspend it," Putin said at a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
He added that Russia would now begin work on developing new medium-range missiles. However, Moscow will only deploy the missiles if Washington does so, he said. There would be no further negotiations with the US on the subject "until our partners are mature enough to have an equal and meaningful dialogue with us on this important issue," Putin said.
"At the same time, we do not want to be drawn into an expensive arms race," he added. Russia's Foreign Ministry vowed on Friday to take measures in response to the US withdrawing from the treaty. US officials had refused to completely rule out the option of saving the 1987 pact, but they said the onus was now on Russia to take measures to eliminate the missiles that Washington alleged were in violation of the treaty.
Russia insists it is not in violation of the deal and has countered that the US breached the terms with its own missile deployment in Europe. At the meeting on Saturday, Lavrov said Russia had done everything in its power to save the treaty and had sought dialogue with the US several times.
"The Americans have lost all interest," he said. Also on Saturday, China said it "opposes the US withdrawal and urges the United States and Russia to properly resolve their differences through constructive dialogue." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that "the US unilateral withdrawal may trigger a series of negative consequences, and China will pay close attention to the follow-up developments."
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