VLADIMIR Putin has pulled Russia out of a Cold War-era nuclear pact with the US, sparking fears of a fresh nuclear arms race.
Washington gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty last month, setting the stage for it to terminate in six months unless Moscow returns to compliance.
Russia denied any breaches, and accused the U.S. of violating the pact, and today put in writing their own intentions to withdraw.
Putin's decree said Moscow is suspending its obligations until the US ends its violations or the treaty terminates.
Putin has warned the US against deploying new missiles in Europe, saying that Russia will retaliate by fielding new fast weapons that will take just as little time to reach their targets.
It follows years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 pact, which bans certain ground-launched cruise missiles.
Previously Putin said Trump was too "immature" for meaningful talks on the issue.
"We will wait until our partners have matured enough to conduct an equal, meaningful dialogue with us on this important topic."
The treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 310 miles to 3,415 miles and bans either side from stationing land-based missiles in Europe.
Putin said Russia will start working on creating new missiles, including supersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington.
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Trump previously described Russia’s missile development programme as "a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad".
He said US withdrawal, which began last week, would be complete in six months unless Moscow destroyed pact-breaking weapons.
Trump said: “Nato allies support us and understand the threat posed by Russia’s violation.
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“We cannot be the only country in the world bound by this treaty.” Russia denies breaking it.
The withdrawal would allow America to develop new intercontinental nuclear missiles and park them on Putin's front doorstep.
US officials also voiced concern that China — not part of the pact — is deploying large numbers of missiles in Asia, which the treaty does not address.
What is the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)?
The INF treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 kilometres (310 miles) to 5,500 kilometres (3,415 miles) and bans either side from stationing land-based missiles in Europe.
It was signed byUS president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to end the build-up or warheads in Europe.
The immediate effect eliminated the US' Pershing II missiles and the Soveiet Union's SS-20s – which was a key event in ending the Cold War.
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