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Russia joins US in suspending Cold War era nuclear arms treaty

Russia joins US in suspending Cold War era nuclear arms treaty
Copyright  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Copyright  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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The INF Treaty bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.


It's another sign that Moscow's relations with the West are steadily worsening.

Russia has announced it's suspending a key arms control treaty that dates back to 1987 when the Cold War was coming to an end.

The tit-for-tat move came after the US suspended the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty on Friday.

At a meeting with his defence and foreign ministers in Moscow on Saturday, President Vladimir Putin also said that Russia wouldn't be initiating any future talks on nuclear arms reductions.

But he did say that "the doors for talks are open."

Last year Russia announced it had developed new nuclear-capable cruise missiles which the US and NATO stated were in violation of the treaty.

President Donald Trump was upbeat on Friday saying: "I hope that we're able to get everybody in a very big and beautiful room, and do a new treaty that would be much better."

If the INF treaty is ripped up in six months' time both countries are likely to expand their nuclear arsenals, which may prompt other major powers such as China to join them.

It was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and marked the end of the Cold War era arms race.

In October last year Gorbachev criticised Trump's approach to the Treaty.

It partly came about because the cash-strapped Soviet Union couldn't affort to keep up with US military spending.

Putin has said that Russia won't increase its military budget for the new weapons and it won't deploy them in Europe and other regions unless the United States does so first.

But he's also said Russia will now start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones.

And analysts fears a new arms race may be about to start.

"U.S. termination of the treaty is not going to bring Russia back into compliance and greatly increases the risks of a new missile race in Europe between the United States and Russia," Kingston Reif, of the US-based Arms Control Association said.

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