UK seeks to support US campaign to accuse Russia of violating INF treaty — embassy

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LONDON, February 6. /TASS/. The United Kingdom is seeking to keep afloat the US-initiated media campaign to blame Russia for violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Russian embassy in London said commenting on a statement by UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field.

“We took note of Field’s yesterday statement in the context of the INF Treaty with calls to Russia to destroy our 9M729 cruise missiles. It appears that such statements by UK officials are intended to keep afloat the US-initiated media campaign to accuse us of violating the INF Treaty,” the embassy said in a statement.

According to the embassy, the campaign was aimed at “justifying the decision to terminate the INF Treaty, made by the US administration long ago.”

“London is perfectly aware that the US side refuses to present any factual data that led to the conclusion that the land-based cruise missile codenamed 9M729, which was designed in Russia and passed flight trials, has the range prohibited by the INF,” the statement reads.

“Russia’s missile programs are fully in line with its INF Treaty commitments,” it continues. “This applies to the 9M729 cruise missile, and we demonstrate maximum transparency regarding it. During the talks in Geneva on January 15, the Russian side invited US military expert to examine the missile in order to ease the existing concerns. However, this unprecedented step was rejected on the spot, which confirms our opinion that Washington is simply not interested in keeping the INF Treaty alive.”

Russian diplomats went on to say that on January 23, Russian Defense Ministry held a briefing for foreign military attaches, to show them the 9M729 missile for the Iskander system and gave a detailed review of its specifications.

“Representatives of the UK embassy were invited to the briefing, but refused to take part. It is regrettable that in an attempt to please its US partners, the UK conservative government keeps putting forward ludicrous accusations and ultimatums against Russia, without bothering themselves with the lack of any real ground,” the embassy said.

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington on many occasions accused Russia of violating the Treaty but Moscow strongly dismissed all accusations and expressed grievances concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

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 unless Russia returns to “real and verifiable” compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending 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.

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