Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the US is suspending the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key pact with Russia that has been a centerpiece of European security since the Cold War. "For years, Russia has violated the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty without remorse," Pompeo said, speaking from the State Department. "Russia's violations put millions of Europeans and Americans at greater risk." "It is our duty to respond appropriately," Pompeo said, adding that the US had provided "ample time" for Russia to return to compliance.
The long-expected suspension, which has raised concerns about a renewed arms race with Moscow and put European allies on edge, goes into effect on Saturday. Pompeo's announcement starts a 180-day clock to complete withdrawal unless Russia returns to compliance with the 1987 agreement. President Donald Trump and his senior officials had been signaling for months that they were ready to pull out of the INF treaty, which the US accuses Moscow of violating since 2014.https://archive.is/hdff9
Putin said "ours will be a mirror response" in a tit-for-tat move that the Russian president ultimately blames on Washington's years-long "systematic" undermining of the agreement.
“Our US partners say that they are ceasing their participation in the treaty, and we are doing the same,” the Russian president said. “They say that they are doing research and testing [on new weapons] and we will do the same thing.”
Crucially, however, he noted that there were no plans to deploy short and mid-range missiles to Europe unless the US does it first — a worst nightmare scenario that has rattled European leaders ever since talk began from Trump that the 1987 treaty could be scrapped.
Putin still seemed to allow some degree space for last minute concessions as "still on the table" possibly in line with the Trump administration's desire to modernize and update a new treaty taking into account new technological and geopolitical realities, such as China's ballistic missile capabilities.
“Let’s wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic, which is extremely important for us, them, and the entire world,” Putin said. But also lashing out during the press conference that followed the meeting with top officials Putin described:
Over many years, we have repeatedly suggested staging new disarmament talks, on all types of weapons. Over the last few years, we have seen our initiatives not supported. On the contrary, pretexts are constantly sought to demolish the existing system of international security.
Specifically he and FM Sergei Lavrov referenced not only Trump's threats to quit the agreement, which heightened in December, but accusations leveled from Washington that the Kremlin was in violation. The White House has now affirmed the bilateral historic agreement signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan will be suspended for 180 days. Lavrov insisted that Moscow “attempted to do everything we could to rescue the treaty.”https://archive.fo/t4dEx