United States and Russia on Friday marked the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces INF Treaty, with the two sides accusing each other of being responsible for the death of this iconic bilateral text concluded during the Cold War.
Unsurprisingly, after six months of deaf dialogue and reciprocal accusations of violations, the two powers let the ultimatum issued by the Donald Trump administration in February go by without moving on their positions.
The withdrawal of the United States in accordance with Article XV of the INF Treaty takes effect Friday, because Russia has not returned to full compliance and verified, said in a statement the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo, since Bangkok where he attends regional meetings.
A few minutes earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry had noted the end of this key agreement at the initiative of Washington, proposing again in parallel a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate range weapons.
In early February, Washington suspended its participation in INF treaty by accusing Moscow of making missiles that did not comply with the treaty. This suspension had opened a six-month transition period that ended this Friday.
The INF treaty, by abolishing the use of a range of mid-range nuclear missiles (from 500 to 5500 km), had eliminated the Russian SS20s and US Pershing deployed in Europe.
Mike Pompeo praised the full support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries.
But Moscow has systematically pushed back US efforts for six years for Russia to respect the text again, he added.
Involved, the Russian missiles 9M729, which represent in his opinion a direct threat to the Americans and their allies although Russia ensures that they have a maximum range of 480 km.
The US Secretary of State added that the Russian authorities had not seized, during the last six months, their last chance to save the agreement.
Several discussions between the two rival powers have in fact proved unsuccessful since February.
We will do what is in our interest, recently warned the new US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has already promised new missiles.
In fact, the Pentagon is pleased to be able to modernize its arsenal to counter the rise of China, which seeks to assert its military supremacy in Asia.