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EU Submissively Following US in Rejecting Russia's Proposals on INF Treaty - Moscow

The landmark Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty, designed primarily to reduce the risk of nuclear war in Europe, is set to expire next month if Russian and US officials prove unable to save it.

The European Union should speak to their US allies regarding the effort to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty instead of blindly following Washington's position on the matter and blaming Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

"It's clear that [the European Union's] statement [on the INF] was made for the sake of appearances and carries strictly propagandistic goals. In reality, EU countries are submissively carrying out the directive of the United States on rejecting realistic measures proposed by Russia on the removal of counterclaims in the context of the INF Treaty based on mutual transparency," the ministry said.

According to the ministry, Moscow's proposals aimed at saving the treaty remain on the table, if officials in Washington are ready to pick up the phone.

"The decision on whether the INF Treaty will exist or not depends on the United States. Therefore, the EU's appeals regarding its salvation are directed to the wrong address," the foreign ministry statement concluded.

Earlier, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini stressed the importance of preserving the INF, and voiced Brussels "deep concern" about Russia's decision to suspend its obligations under the treaty. 

Mogherini "strongly" urged Russia "to effectively address the serious concerns repeatedly expressed" by the US side regarding the 9M729, a ground-based missile system which Washington claims violates the range limits outlined by the INF.

Earlier this year, following President Trump's announcement that the US would be scrapping the INF over Russia's alleged violation of the treaty, Moscow took the unprecedented step of declassifying key details about the 9M729's capabilities and showing the rocket itself to military attaches and the press at a military warehouse. The missile is said to have a minimum firing range of 50 km, and a maximum range of 480 km, well below the 500-5,500 km range restrictions set by the INF.

Insisting that it has adhered to the treaty itself, Moscow has also accused the US of ignoring its own commitments under the pact, including the unlawful deployment of combat drones (which Russia says may fall into the category of 'ground-based cruise missiles'), the development of US intermediate-range missiles under the guise of target missiles for its nuclear shield, and the construction of ground-based Aegis Ashore missile shield facilities in Poland and Romania, which Russia believes could be easily converted to fire nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missiles.

With the purpose of the 1987 INF Treaty being to reduce tensions and fears of an accidental nuclear war caused by the short flight time of missiles deployed in Europe, Moscow believes US actions, particularly the placement of Tomahawk-capable launchers near its borders, negates the progress made by the INF.

Last week, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control said it's not too late to save the INF, pending frank discussions between Moscow and Washington based on "mutual transparency."

If an agreement cannot be reached, the INF will be terminated on August 2.

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