MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin on Saturday said Russia was suspending its participation in a key Cold War-era missile treaty in a mirror response to a US move the day before, agencies reported.
“Our American partners have announced they are suspending their participation in the deal, and we are also suspending our participation,” he said of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Putin said during a meeting with foreign and defence ministers Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu that Russia would no longer initiate talks with the US on disarmament.
“We will wait until our partners have matured enough to conduct an equal, meaningful dialogue with us on this important topic,” the president said.
President Donald Trump said Friday that Washington was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty and starting a process to withdraw in six months.
Washington says a Russian medium-range missile system breaches the INF deal.
But Moscow has long insisted it does not violate the agreement and last month invited reporters and foreign military attaches to a briefing on the disputed weapons system.
Putin has previously threatened to develop nuclear missiles banned under the INF treaty if it is scrapped.
Putin has also said that if Washington moved to place more missiles in Europe after ditching the deal, Russia would respond “in kind” and that any European countries agreeing to host US missiles would be at risk of a Russian attack.
Signed towards the end of the Cold War by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.
The deal resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals, but put no restrictions on other major military actors such as China.