Belarusian minister says Minsk needs to strengthen alliance with Moscow

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MINSK, February 7. /TASS/. Belarus is determined to strengthen its armed forces and develop the Union State with Russia amid changes in the geopolitical situation caused by Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov told reporters on Thursday.

“We will strengthen our armed forces, boost defense capabilities and nationhood and strengthen the Union of Russia and Belarus. All that needs to be done,” he stressed.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF Treaty starting February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the Treaty in six months’ time unless Russia returns to “real and verifiable” compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was likewise suspending its involvement in the treaty. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show readiness for an equal and substantive dialogue.

The US accused Russia of violating the treaty for the first time in July 2014. Since then, Washington has repeated its claims on numerous occasions, while Moscow has flatly denied them advancing counter-claims concerning compliance with the treaty.

The INF Treaty signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, entered into force on June 1, 1988. It covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers). By June 1991, the parties fulfilled their obligations under the treaty. The Soviet Union destroyed 1,846 missiles, and the United States – 846.

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