Moscow: President Vladimir Putin on Saturday said Russian Federation was suspending its participation in a key Cold War-era missile treaty in a mirror response to a USA move the day before.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the treaty would terminate in six months unless Russian Federation accepts U.S. demands that it verifiably destroy the cruise missiles that Washington claims are in violation.
The Russian president's comment comes after on 1 March a year ago Putin said during his annual address to the Russian upper house that Moscow had developed a number of strategic weapons, including Avangard and Kinzhal hypersonic missile systems, underwater drone Poseidon and laser weapon Peresvet.
"Our American partners have announced they are suspending their participation in the deal, and we are also suspending our participation", Putin said of the agreement, following a United States deadline for cooperation.
It would reconsider its withdrawal if Russian Federation came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.
President Donald Trump said Friday that Washington was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty and starting a process to withdraw in six months. "Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty, and we will do the same". Trump's move also reflected his administration's view that the pact was an obstacle to efforts needed to counter intermediate-range missiles deployed by China, which isn't part of the treaty.
Beijing on Saturday also expressed concern over the mutual suspension, calling for the United States and Russian Federation to engage in "constructive dialogue".
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"The character and the timing of the works provide an irrefutable proof that the USA administration had chose to pull out of the INF treaty years before making unfounded claims of Russian violations", it said.
Russia's foreign minister said the USA withdrawal from the pivotal pact has further upset strategic stability.
Trump said he would like to "get everybody in a big and lovely room and do a new treaty", but in the meantime, the United States "can't be put at a disadvantage".
Putin has previously threatened to develop nuclear missiles banned under the INF treaty if it is scrapped.
Sergey Lavrov was speaking during a meeting with President Putin.
He has previously warned of proliferation of weapons but on Saturday told the ministers Russian Federation would "not be drawn into a costly new arms race".