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Trump administration abandons 1987 U.S.-Russia missile treaty

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A Russian military officer walks past the 9M729 land-based cruise missile on display with its launcher

Russian military general staff chief General Valery Gerasimov then told foreign military attachés in December that "if the INF treaty is destroyed, we won't leave it without a response", adding, "You, as military professionals, must understand that the target for Russian retaliation won't be USA territory but the countries where the intermediate-range missiles are deployed".

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russian Federation was violating the terms of the agreement.

"We are sometime away from having a system that we have produced, that we would train soldiers or airmen or Marines to deploy, and then certainly before we would be in a position to talk about basing, potentially in allied countries. and of course all that will be proceeded by intensive consultations with allies so that we can have a mutual understanding of what the security environment, what the defense and deterrence environment will be in a post INF world", the official said.

Nuclear weapons experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a statement this week that while Russia's violation of the INF treaty is a serious problem, USA withdrawal under current circumstances would be counterproductive.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in announcing the move, said the United States would cease complying with the treaty starting Saturday, when a senior U.S. official also told reporters Washington will formally inform Moscow of its intent to withdraw. At the same time, the United States will begin withdrawing from the treaty, which will be effective in six months, he said.

Russian Federation has four battalions of 9M729 cruise missiles, which total about 100 plus spares.

American officials made more than 30 attempts over the past six years to bring Russian Federation to compliance. "The US does not want Russian Federation and China to turn into the new centers of power as it threatens Washington's global hegemony, which is already crumbling." .

"The US is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russian Federation back on better footing, but the onus is on Russian Federation to change course from a pattern of destabilising activity, not just on this issue but on many others as well", Pompeo said.

Trump insisted the USA can not be "put at a disadvantage". "When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded and our security is so openly threatened, we must respond".

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also address the issue from the State Department.

Before Friday's announcement, the United States alleged that a new Russian missile breached the treaty. The treaty bans ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles).

The first official added that the U.S.is not now looking at nuclear-capable ground-based cruise missiles, unlike the Russian systems. "It is a reality that China is unconstrained, it is a reality they have more than 1,000 of these weapons, but for the United States this has nothing to do with China".

The Europeans are keen to avoid a repeat of a crisis in 1983, when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies chose to deploy US cruise and Pershing 2 ballistic missiles as negotiations with Moscow faltered over Russia's stationing of SS-20 missiles in Eastern Europe.

"We believe that the treaty is needed".

"For any arms control treaty to be effective, every party must abide by its terms", she said.

Mr Rybakov said: "The United States imposed a 60-day period during which we had to fulfil their ultimatum".

For six years, both the Trump and Obama administrations have raised concerns about Russia's noncompliance.

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