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US withdrawal from INF Treaty will trigger arms race, senior MP warns

 Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) will spark an arms race, but Russia’s response would be adequate and in the framework of its financial potential, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee Chairman and former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops Vladimir Shamanov said.

"Short-an intermediate-range missiles are a tactical area of confrontation. This [the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty] will lead to a further arms race," Shamanov said. "We have worked out some measures and the president in his address to the Federal Assembly made it clear that we would not sit idle," he said.

"We have made a number of measures of an organizing and scientific and technical character, the response will be absolutely adequate and in the framework of our financial capabilities, that’s enough. We won’t allow them to blackmail us," the politician warned.

According to Shamanov, Trump’s statement on leaving the INF Treaty was not surprising for Russia. "They rejected our proposals to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss all the claims [to Russia on the INF Treaty]," Shamanov said, noting that Washington’s claims are "absolutely inconsistent." Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have stated this many times, he noted.

Meanwhile, Russia also accuses the US of violating the arms control treaty, but Washington tries not to notice its founded charges. "That’s why the only way to solve this issue is to sit down and hold talks. Everything else is just blackmail," he said.

"Certainly, this [the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty] will add some instability, what won’t improve the situation in the world," the lawmaker said. Speaking on whether there is still a chance to draw up a new treaty, he said: "We have tried. The ball is in their court."

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia was violating the terms of the agreement. At the same time, he did not rule out signing a new agreement on intermediate-range nuclear forces with Moscow and Beijing if Russia and China provide guarantees of halting the production of such weapons.

According to the US data, which was shared with NATO allies, Russia allegedly started deploying its newest missiles 9M729, what Washington claims is a violation of the 1987 treaty. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US accusations that the 9M729 range exceeds the limits stipulated by the treaty have not been proven.

The INF Treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 in Washington, DC. The US accused Russia of violating the agreement for the first time in July 2014. Later, Washington repeated the claims on many occasions, while Moscow rejected them, also accusing the US of developing missiles, which are tested at a range prohibited by the treaty and deploying missile defense elements, which may be used for launching short- and intermediate-range missiles.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 21Oct18]

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