Russia demands US destroy missiles in Romania, strike drones

Russia has demanded the US destroy its weapons banned under a Cold War-era arms control treaty and return to compliance with the agreement which Washington renounced recently.

Russian defense ministry said on Thursday it summoned the US embassy’s military attache the day earlier to hand him a note containing the Kremlin’s demand from Washington to “return to strict compliance” with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

President Donald Trump announced last week that the US would suspend the deal for 180 days and fully withdraw from it later if Moscow did not stop what he called “violations.”

Russia denies the allegation, saying it is the US that has broken the pact. Moscow says Washington is using false allegations as a pretext to withdraw from an agreement it never wanted to be part of.

Russian defense ministry told the US diplomat that Washington has, for years, been in breach of the treaty.

According to the note, Moscow called on Washington first to destroy the land-based universal launch systems MK-41 deployed in Romania to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The ministry told the US diplomat that Washington should destroy “target missiles that are characteristically similar to short and intermediate range land-based ballistic missiles.”

It also demanded the destruction of “unmanned fighting vehicles that characteristically fall under the definition laid out in the agreement as ground-based cruise missile.”

In the wake of the US suspension of the Cold War-era nuclear pact, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin had also suspended its obligations under the treaty.

Putin authorized the defense ministry to push ahead with development of new missiles, including supersonic ones.

Moscow to step up security in face of US pullout

Regarding the US withdrawal of the nuclear deal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Moscow will take comprehensive measures to ensure its security.

Ryabkov said at a press conference that Moscow is open to negotiation if Washington returns to the compliance with the INF.

The INF was signed in 1987 to ease a crisis in which US and Soviet missiles were placed within the range of European capitals.

Under the treaty, both sides were banned from creating 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.

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