The United States will suspend its obligations under a landmark nuclear treaty in 60 days in response to Russia's alleged violation of the pact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday. The treaty banned all land-based cruise missiles with a range of between 310 miles and 3,417 miles.
Over the past five years, the USA has raised its concerns over the SSC-8 at least 30 times with Russian Federation "to the highest levels of leadership", Pompeo said, only to be met with denials, obfuscation and spurious counter-claims.
He said Moscow was against scrapping the treaty but said the United States had long ago chose to pull out and was using allegations of Russia's serial breaches as a pretext.
"It has to be fully implemented, so I hope that the time that is there to work on preserving the treaty and achieving its full implementation can be used wisely from all sides, and we will definitely try to make our part to make sure this happens".
NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gesture as they speak before posing for a family photo during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2018.
"We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russian Federation is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty", the statement said.
"These violations of the INF treaty can not be viewed in isolation from the larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage", he added.
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Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told foreign defense attaches in Moscow on December 5 that a US withdrawal from the treaty would be a "dangerous step that can negatively affect not only European security, but also strategic stability as a whole".
The NATO ministers called on Russian Federation to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance", saying it is now "up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF treaty".
This video grab provided by RU-RTR Russian television via AP television on Thursday, March 1, 2018, shows the launch of what President Vladimir Putin said is Russia's new nuclear-powered intercontinental cruise missile.
Klimkin welcomed the political support he received in Brussels, but said: "We shouldn't just stay on the level of declarations, however strong declarations are".
Mr Pompeo signalled that, after the 60-day period, Washington would increase its presence in Europe to restore military balance, but declined to give more details.
Britain's chief of the defence staff, General Sir Nick Carter, has also said Russian Federation is in breach of the agreement - telling MPs "we need to call them out" for a deployment of "systems which break the 500km to 5,000km range". "We're hopeful they'll change course, but there's been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so".
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the USA ultimatum was an "escalation of the situation".