09.02.2019 | Russia summons US diplomat accusing Washington of breaking collapsed INF Treaty
Source - The Daily Express
Last week the US announced it wants to tear up the landmark 1987 agreement which aims to keep intermediate and long range missiles out of Europe. Donald Trump has accused Vladimir Putin of violating the 30-year-old treaty by stationing Novator 9M729 missiles in territory banned by the deal and gave the Kremlin a 60-day ultimatum to move the warheads. That demand expired last weekend after Russia held firm and said the range limit of the controversial missile does not contravene the INF Treaty triggering a six-month countdown before the accord is binned.
As both sides attempt to blame the other for the Treaty’s breakdown, the Kremlin today accused America of also breaching the deal.
The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) summoned the US military attaché in Moscow to demand America gets rid of its cruise missile launchpads and attack drones in Europe.
Russia’s MoD added in doing so the US would return to compliance with the INF Treaty and the deal could be saved.
It says the launchpads and drones fit the definition of a “land-based cruise missile” under a different form defined by the 80s deal which was signed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan.
Russian state-owned media quoted defence authorities as saying the US must “destroy its Mk-41 universal launchers, designed for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles and target missiles”.
The Russian MoD added that it “categorically denies groundless claims of Russia violating its obligations under the treaty”.
Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkovm said “the US accusations are false”.
However America believes the Novator 9M729 missiles have a range between 500 and 5,500km, making them illegal under the treaty.
On Saturday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said America has been breaking the treaty for more than two decades.
He said: “The United States has been violating the treaty since 1999, when it started testing combat unmanned aerial vehicles that have the same characteristics as land-based cruise missiles banned by the treaty.”
“These launchers are fully suitable, as they are for Tomahawk intermediate-range attack missiles.”
US officials have repeatedly denied Russia’s allegation.
This week, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Rybakov threatened Washington by saying it should not seek to contain Moscow’s military power after President Putin said he would “mirror” America after the collapse of the INF Treaty.
Mr Rybakov told Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency: "It is vital to conclude that measures for Russia’s military containment will be taken and they will be very tough."
"We will respond to them in a tit-for-tat manner."
"But colleagues who are now dwelling on how to seriously sting Russia must comprehend all this."