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‘US pullout from Russia treaty to have global consequences’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov

A senior Russian official has cautioned the United States against a plan to withdraw from a landmark Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, saying such a move would have grave consequence for the world.

US President Donald Trump announced last month that Washington would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was signed toward the end of the Cold War in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The treaty — seen as a milestone in ending the Cold War arms race between the two superpowers — banned ground-launch nuclear missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers and led to the elimination of nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told a news briefing on Monday that leaving the treaty would provoke “a new round of arms races.”

“This is our judgment based on the US’s non-constructive policies,” he said, explaining that Moscow had been “asking the US to respond to our regular concerns, including the INF Treaty, over the past several decades.”

“And our concerns are usually more serious and more legitimate. Even so, we didn’t shut the door for dialog nor announce a withdrawal from the treaty,” Ryabkov said.

Trump cited Russia’s “violations” of the deal as the reason behind the plan to exit the INF. Russia, however, rejected the claim and reaffirmed Moscow’s commitments to its obligations under the treaty and its intention to keep doing so.

Russia has previously warned that it would take corresponding measures against the US’s withdrawal.

But Ryabkov said much will depend on Washington’s next steps.

He further said that the crisis of confidence will exceed all limits and further complicate the prospects of launching any systemic talks on strategic problems and arms race prevention.

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