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Kremlin: Russia to take measures to maintain balance if US pulls out of INF

Moscow’s response to Washington’s possible exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty will be explained by the need to maintain a global strategic balance but Russia is ready to continue negotiations with the US on the INF Treaty, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“As for the imminent response by the Russian Federation to the withdrawal [of the United States] from the INF Treaty, this was stated by the President [of Russia Vladimir Putin] and is related to the fact that the withdrawal from the INF Treaty may disrupt the strategic balance,” Peskov stated, TASS reported.

“Correspondingly, Russia will be obliged in the interests of peace and stability to take action to restore this balance,” the Kremlin Spokesman stressed, replying to journalists’ questions.

Putin’s spokesman did not specify the countermeasures that Russia might take, noting that they will be “necessary for ensuring security and observing Russia’s national interests”.

At the same time, Peskov focused on Putin’s statement that “Russia wants and is ready to continue talks with the United States on the INF Treaty and Russia is ready for a dialogue”.

“This is a very important statement by the president and it can’t be ignored,” the Kremlin Spokesman added.

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that his country would quit the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly in breach of that agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov described this as a dangerous move. Washington was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. In the meantime, London came out in support of the United States and NATO placed the responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia, because in its opinion Moscow had apparently violated the treaty.

The INF Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 and took effect on June 1, 1988. It outlawed deployed and non-deployed intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-based missiles.

In recent years Washington has repeatedly alleged Russia was in breach of the agreement. Moscow emphatically dismissed the charges and countered them with its own claims over the United States’ non-compliance.