Russia considers abandoning missile moratorium amid US threats

Russia says it might abandon the moratorium on the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, as a result of the destabilizing military programs of the United States in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s head of nuclear non-proliferation, Vladimir Yermakov, told the TASS news agency on Tuesday that the destabilizing military programs of the United States and its allies have been making Moscow’s moratorium increasingly fragile.

“In particular, whether Russia will be ready to stick further to the unilateral moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-or shorter-range missiles in individual regions will depend on the specific parameters of their range,” he said.

“But even now, we can say with confidence that the destabilizing military programs of the United States and their allies have been making our moratorium increasingly fragile – both with regard to the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe,” Yermakov added.

The US suspended its commitments under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in February 2019, accusing Russia of deliberately violating the treaty. Russia did the same in response.

Late that year, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a proposal to several countries, including NATO member states, to introduce a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-and shorter-range missiles in Europe and other regions. The US, however, rejected the initiative.

In a related development on Wednesday, the US Air Force and Navy conducted a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Navy commander Chris Cruise said the test of the Airborne Launch Control System validates the military’s ability to strike targets anywhere and at any time if the president deems it necessary.

Moscow has also begun using its new battle tanks to fire on Ukrainian positions “but they have not yet participated in direct assault operations,” Russia’s news agency cited a source close to the matter on Monday.

Tass news agency also quoted another source familiar with the matter that risks of a direct military confrontation between the two nuclear powers, Russia and the US, are steadily growing.

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