Washington this month announced it was quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) after alleging violations by Moscow. In response, Russia said it was withdrawing too, raising the prospect of a new arms race between the rival nations and the return of nuclear-tipped missiles to Europe. As both sides continue to blame the other for the breakdown of the treaty, Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the US, said the US decision had made Europe less safe.
He was quoted by the Kremlin-funded RT as saying: “The INF Treaty is dealing with the security of the European countries and the Russian Federation, not with the security of the US.”
The 1987 accord prohibits the development, testing or deployment of certain types of short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles.
It was signed to ease a crisis in which US and Soviet missiles were placed within range of European capitals.
But the US says Russia has been violating the terms for years with its Novator 9M729 cruise missile, known as the SSC-8 by NATO.
Moscow denies this, claiming the weapon’s range means it is not banned under the treaty and argues Washington was just seeking an excuse to leave a deal it no longer wished to be party to.
Quitting the pact unties the hands of both nuclear-armed nations to begin developing new missiles and Russia said it planned to develop new land-based missiles within two years.
But while some have urged the US and Russia to attempt to save the treaty, others have applauded it.
Last month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Russia to destroy its SSC-8 missiles and their launchers.
However Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated Russia’s denials that it had violated the INF treaty.
But others say the US is better off outside the pact so it can develop its own missiles if other countries are allowed to build them.
John Bolton, who last year became President Trump’s national security advisor, has previously argued that the US needs to design new cruise missiles to counter the growing threat posed by China.