The bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Russia and the U.S. has ended, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Friday.
In a statement, the ministry blamed Washington for its demise, saying that the deal had ended “due to an initiative by the U.S. side.”
The treaty, clinched between the Soviet Union and the U.S. in the late 1980s, has been a cornerstone of Europe’s security architecture for the last three decades.
It banned ground-launched nuclear missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.
The U.S. initiated the deal’s termination on the allegation that Russia had violated it with the development of a missile capable of reaching that range.
“Russia failed to return to full and verified compliance through the destruction of its non-compliant missile system—the SSC-8 or 9M729 ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile,” the U.S. State Department said on Friday.
The U.S. had given Russia six months to eliminate those particular missiles. Russia adamantly denied violating the treaty.
Washington has suggested that China, not a signatory to the treaty, could also be developing mid-range nuclear missiles.
The U.S. previously withdrew from a similar bilateral treaty with Russia, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, in the early 2000s, arguing at the time that it needed to develop ballistic missile defences against “rogue” states, such as Iran and North Korea.
Last year, Russia said it test-fired another ground-launched missile, the Avangard, from a site south of the Ural Mountains to hit a target about 6,000 kilometres away in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka region, beyond the INF range.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned at the time that the hypersonic Avangard is “impervious to current and future air defence and missile defence systems of a potential enemy.”