Lavrov Denies Possible Return to Cold War with US

President Donald Trump on Friday announced the US was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty as of Saturday and starting a process to withdraw in six months. — File

Russian Federation has said it will develop a new hypersonic missile and a land-based version of an existing cruise missile by 2021 following the demise of a key nuclear arms control treaty with the US.

On Friday, the United States announced the suspension of its participation in the Cold War era treaty that banned ground-launched medium-range missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu explained that making the new weapon will be a "retaliatory measure" against the USA, which he said has already been developing its own short and mid-range missiles, "in real breach" of the INF Treaty.

Shoigu said Tuesday that such mid-range missiles must now be designed, insisting that Russian Federation take "tit-for-tat measures".

Shoigu said a land-based version of the navy's Kalibr cruise missile and a new land-based hypersonic missile must be built in 2019 or 2020.

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'We Europeans can not remain spectators of our own security, ' French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday at a conference in Portugal.

Russian Federation has rejected the US claims of violation, charging that the missile, which is part of the Iskander-M missile system, has a maximum range of 480 kilometers (298 miles).

Washington has said it will withdraw fully from the INF in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the 1987 pact. Russia, who denied the United States allegations, responded to the U.S. pullout by withdrawing from the treaty as well.

In the easing of Cold War tensions in the era after Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the agreement was one of the strongest indicators that the Cold War was winding down because both sides, in effect, removed their intermediate range warheads from continental Europe.

"We will wait until our partners have matured enough to conduct an equal, meaningful dialogue with us on this important topic", Putin added. Torpedoing the INF Treaty is likely to trigger the reverse process, leaving the world more at risk and more unsafe than ever.

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This will not start an arms race; one has been going on for 10 years at least.

But instead of envisioning new or updated agreements aimed at limiting each other's arms buildup and nipping a nascent arms race in the bud, both the U.S. and Russian Federation seem to be interested in unconstrained arms development, some experts say - with China not far behind.

Putin also noted during yesterday's meeting that he would like the military to prepare a response to the possible deployment of weapons in space, echoing Trump's calls.

Putin instructed the military to make sure the research and development works on new weapons don't swell military spending. "Urge your senators to cosponsor the Prevention of Arms Race Act and block Trump's banned nukes!"

Russian Federation has also accused the Trump administration of providing no evidence of treaty violations. Washington cites not only Russian Federation but also China as a factor behind its decision to withdraw from the pact, but China has dismissed such an argument as a "mistake", arguing that the country's security policy is defensive and does not pose any threat to other countries. The US deployed similar missiles in response, in the 1980s, leading to negotiations that produced the INF treaty.

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This is a developing story, more to follow. The weapons are a means to prevent American forces from intervening in issues related to Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province, or the South China Sea, which Beijing regards as being within its sphere of influence.

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