- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Russia warned Tuesday that a “multilateral arms race” risks resulting from the United States withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a Cold War-era weapons agreement recently abandoned by President Trump.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made the dire prediction in a statement issued amid the Trump administration announcing steps last month to formally withdraw the U.S. from the bilateral agreement by Aug. 2.

“It’s obvious that the treaty’s collapse will have very negative repercussions for international security and stability,” the ministry said. “A multilateral arms race may start simultaneously in several regions and the system of control over weapons will be subject to further erosion. This may result in serious threats for a stable regime of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the prospects of further nuclear disarmament.”

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Signed in 1987 between former President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, the INF Treaty prohibits both nuclear powers from developing ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).

The Trump administration has accused Russia of violating the agreement by developing a new missile system, the 9M729, and unsuccessfully demanded its destruction prior to starting the six-month process of leaving the treaty on Feb. 2.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, subsequently followed through by formally withdrawing Moscow from the INF Treaty last month.

“We will have to take effective countermeasures,” Mr. Putin said previously. “However, Russia, as a responsible and sensible country, has no interest in a new arms race.”

Mr. Gorbachev, meanwhile, recently warned an arms race would erupt as a result of the treaty’s end.

“This destructive turn of events will lead to a very different result: The destabilization of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and greater chaos and unpredictability in world politics,” Mr. Gorbachev, 88, wrote in an op-ed last month.

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