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NATO holds Russia responsible for US decision to scrap INF Treaty

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The spokesperson also recalled that in its statement after the Brussels summit, NATO voiced concerns over Russia’s 9M729 missile system

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has laid responsibility on Russia for the US decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), noting that Moscow 'highly likely' violates this agreement, NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on Sunday.

"NATO Allies have repeatedly raised their concerns about Russia's lack of respect for its international commitments, including for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was concluded in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union. At the NATO Summit in July [in Brussels], Allies stressed that the United States is in compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty, while a pattern of behavior over many years has led to widespread doubts about Russian compliance," Lungescu said.

The spokesperson also recalled that in its statement after the Brussels summit, NATO voiced concerns over Russia’s 9M729 missile system. "After years of denials and obfuscation, Russia recently acknowledged the existence of the missile system without providing the necessary transparency and explanation. In the absence of any credible answer from Russia on this new missile, Allies believe that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty," she said.

The alliance continues consultations on this issue, which was discussed at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in October. The sides noted there that "allies have made efforts over many years to engage Russia on this issue, in bilateral and multilateral formats."

Since 2014, NATO has halted its political dialogue with Russia and the NATO-Russia Council, which used to meet once or twice per month, has held fewer than 10 meetings over the past four years.

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.

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