The US has long planned to withdraw from the INF Treaty but it’s only now that they started seeking justifications for it and conveniently pinned the blame on Russia, Vladimir Putin said after Washington’s 60-day ultimatum.
Speaking to NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Russia of breaching the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). “In light of these facts, today, America will announce it finds Russia in violation of the treaty and we will remove ourselves from the treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to compliance,” Pompeo said.
“Mr Pompeo’s statement came a bit late,” Vladimir Putin responded on Wednesday. “At first, the American side did announce its intent to withdraw from the INF Treaty, and then they started seeking justifications as to why they should do it.”
Congress authorized funding research and development efforts to build new missile systems “before Washington announced withdrawal from the INF,” Putin believes. “The decision had been made some time ago, but quietly – they thought we wouldn’t notice it.” However, developing new types of short-and intermediate-range missiles was an open secret as “it was set out in the Pentagon’s budget.”
“Next, they started to look for someone to blame,” the Russian leader went on. “The easiest thing is [to tell] the Western public that ‘Russia is guilty’.” This, according to Putin, is the opposite of the truth because Moscow stands against dismantling the landmark treaty.
While the US threatens to pull out from the INF Treaty, it has already done something similar in the recent past. Back in 2002, under George W. Bush, Washington has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), “one of the cornerstones of international security.»
“They weren’t shy [about it], they calmly pulled out of it – by the way, without any reference to anything,” the President recalled. He likened it to what is happening now, adding that Americans “are figuring out who to blame for this reckless move.”
At the end of the day, dismantling the treaty will not be left unanswered. Whereas the US is working on new types of missiles, Russia is not sitting on its hands, Putin reiterated. “What would our answer be? A simple one – we will also do it.”