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Russia Demands U.S. Missiles Be ‘Eliminated’ from Europe

Russian prime minister Dimitri Medvedev during a news conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, September 21, 2017. (Lehtikuva/Martti Kainulainen via Reuters)

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that the Kremlin wants U.S. nuclear weapons and missile systems completely removed from Europe, a day after Russia said that it was suspending its obligations under a Cold War-era nuclear-arms deal.

“Everyone will feel more at ease when all U.S. nuclear weapons return to U.S. territory, and infrastructure in Europe which allows to store, service and deploy those weapons, will be eliminated,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, according to Tass, Russia’s state-run news agency.

On Monday, Russian president Vladimir Putin officially suspended the country’s obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the pact last month.

Russia and the U.S. have accused each other of violating the treaty, which bans signatories from possessing land-based nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,410 miles. The U.S. claims that Russia’s 9M729 missile qualifies as a banned missile under the treaty, while Russia says the U.S. has deployed missiles in neighboring European countries that threaten Russia.

“This is why the Russian president signed, as a reciprocal measure, a decree on suspending membership in the INF Treaty until the US eliminates their own violations,” the prime minister said.

However, Medvedev emphasized that Russia wants “peace and stability in Europe.”

“Of course, we maintain dialogue with NATO member states,” he said. “We are not threatening anyone, and we are definitely not going to attack anyone or fight with anyone. Any attempts at nuclear blackmailing, in our opinion, exacerbate international tensions.”

The U.S. has about 150 nuclear weapons stationed in five European NATO countries, which only add “unnecessary stress, mostly for NATO countries themselves,” Medvedev said.

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