President Vladimir Putin on Monday officially suspended Russia’s participation in a key Cold War-era arms treaty, after the US first moved to ditch the INF deal.
Putin “signed a decree regarding the suspension of Russia’s participation in the agreement between the USSR and the US,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The move was taken following “a violation of the United States of its obligations under the treaty,” it said.
Moscow and Washington have accused one another of breaching the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement concluded between the US and the former Soviet Union in 1987.
US President Donald Trump said in February that Washington would start a process to withdraw from the deal within six months.
Putin responded soon after that Russia was planning to suspend its involvement.
He said Russia would seek to develop medium-range missiles in response to what he said were similar projects in the US, raising the specter of a new arms race.
In his state of the nation address last month, Putin threatened to deploy new missiles against Western capitals.
The longtime Russian leader warned Washington against deploying any new missiles in Europe following the collapse of the treaty, saying Moscow would consider it a “serious threat”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed the threats as “bluster” designed to divide Washington and its allies. Brokered by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF treaty ended a superpower buildup of warheads that had frightened Europe.
It banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km (300 to 3,400 miles).
The deal addressed Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals, but put no restrictions on other major military actors such as China.