Moscow calls US withdrawal from nuclear arms deal a 'dangerous step'

Statement follows Trump decision to exit arms control agreement with former Soviet Union

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Russia's deputy foreign minister said on Sunday that Washington's planned withdrawal from the international Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty would be a very dangerous step.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would exit a landmark arms control agreement the United States signed with the former Soviet Union. He says Russia is violating the deal and it is preventing the US from developing new weapons.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by state news agencies as saying that US accusations towards Russia are an attempt by Washington to hide its own treaty violations.

"This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Tass state news agency.

The treaty is "significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability", he said.

Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions "through a method of blackmail", he added.

The 1987 agreement, which helps to protect the security of the US and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.

Trump said on Saturday that "Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years". The agreement has constrained the US from developing new weapons, but Mr Trump said America would begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons.


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