In response to the United States’ decision to pull out of the INF treaty, Moscow is firing back. The Russian Defense Ministry is now accusing Washington of producing missiles that were banned under the treaty two years before it accused Russia of doing the same.
Russia has announced that it is also pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty for the next 6 months, in what it calls a “mirror response.” President Putin said he was open to dialogue, but planned to wait until the U.S. matured sufficiently before holding a meaningful conversation on the topic.
“Our American partners said they were suspending their participation in the INF treaty, and we will suspend ours also. They announced they were conducting research and development and we will do the same,” Putin said.
The Russian Defense Ministry is now taking it a step further, and accusing the U.S. of planning to pull out of the treaty long before it accused Moscow of violating the agreement—but it was the because the US started producing weapons that were in violation of the treaty two years ago.
Russia published an image of what it claims is a plant in Arizona where the U.S. started producing medium- and short-range missiles that were prohibited under the agreement in June 2017.
The defense corporation that owns the plant, Raytheon, signed a 900-million-dollar contract to develop the nation’s next-generation air-launched nuclear cruise missiles just two months later.
Russia’s Defense Ministry noted that the factory’s facilities have expanded by 44 percent with 2,000 new employees in the last year. Moscow is also accusing Washington of using bases in other countries to conduct missile launches that directly violate the treaty.
“Since 2014, the US has deployed in Europe its Mk 41 missile launches, while is suitable for American Tomahawk missiles, which is a direct violation of the treaty. These missile launches are based in Romania and are ready to be constructed in Poland,” Lavrov said.
The Pentagon also allotted 58 million dollars for a research and development program for ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in November 2017. Reports at the time claimed the research was aimed at potentially reviving an arsenal of prohibited ground-based, intermediate-range missiles IF Moscow continued violating the pact.
However, the anonymous U.S. officials did not provide proof that Russia was violating the treaty at the time. And with Moscow giving Washington a taste of its own medicine, it remains to be seen if the landmark INF treaty will ever be fully restored.