Moscow on Wednesday dismissed as groundless US claims that Russia is violating a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms, from which Washington is planning to withdraw.
“Groundless accusations are again being repeated,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday declared Russia in “material breach” of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
“No proof has been produced to support this American position,” Zakharova said.
She described the treaty as a “cornerstone of global stability and international security”.
Pompeo said during a meeting with fellow NATO foreign ministers that the US would withdraw from the deal within 60 days if Moscow does not dismantle missiles that Washington say violate it.
NATO said it was now “up to Russia” to save the treaty.
In October, President Donald Trump sparked global concern by declaring the United States would pull out of the treaty and build up America’s nuclear stockpile “until people come to their senses”.
But on Monday, the US leader said he wants talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin “to head off a major and uncontrollable Arms Race”.
Signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, the INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
But it was a bilateral treaty between the US and the then Soviet Union, so it puts no restrictions on other major military actors like China.