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Putin Just Made 'Tit-for-Tat' Move on INF Treaty

Following in US footsteps, Russia's pulling out of treaty now, too, he says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2019 6:30 AM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu during a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Saturday.   (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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(Newser) – On Friday, the US said it would pull out of a longtime arms-control treaty with Russia; on Saturday, Russia followed suit. There'd been a small window to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which had been in place since the end of the Cold War, with Russia still technically able to meet a US-mandated compliance deadline on Saturday. But Russia has continued to deny it's been in violation of the treaty, and now, despite President Vladimir Putin's past criticism of US President Trump for threatening to withdraw from the INF pact, Putin has made what he says is his "tit-for-tat response," indicating that Russia will do the same, Radio Free Europe reports.

Per the AP and CNN, Putin's announcement on the Kremlin website says Russia, like the US, will leave the treaty in six months' time, and that he has asked for new land-based intermediate-range weapons to be developed—though he insists those weapons won't be put to use in the EU or anywhere else unless the US does so first. "We will respond quid pro quo," Putin noted. "Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty and [we] will do the same. They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly." The Russian leader says he instructed his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, not to get caught up in any more INF talks with the US, instead waiting to see if Washington will respond to any of Russia's earlier suggestions to save the treaty.

(Read more INF Treaty stories.)

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