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Putin Officially Suspends Russia’s Obligations Under Nuclear-Arms Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an annual expanded meeting of the Interior Ministry Board in Moscow, Russia, February 28, 2019. (Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via Reuters)

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

Putin said Russia’s participation in the 1987 treaty, which was signed by Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, will end “until the U.S. ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates.”

Last month, the Trump administration announced that the agreement would be terminated in six months unless Russia stopped violating it. Russia has denied violating the agreement and accused America of violating it instead.

The treaty bans either country from possessing land-based nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,410 miles. NATO has concluded that Russia’s relatively new 9M729 missile violates the terms, while Russia claims that missile-defense facilities the U.S. has deployed in Europe constitute a violation.

In December, the Russian president made a thinly disguised threat to Western powers who might consider attacking Russia.

“I hope our new systems will provide food for thought to those who are used to militaristic and aggressive rhetoric,” Putin said in an address to his defense advisers, before complaining that “NATO continued to build up its military infrastructure near our borders during the year.”

The dispute over the treaty has sparked concerns of a renewed arms race between the Kremlin and Washington.

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