Pompeo, Mattis, 29 Countries Accuse Russia of Violating Arms Treaty; Russia Has 60 Days to Comply

Within four days, two U.S. officials and all 29 members of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty have implored Russia to stop violating the unprecedented Cold War–era nuclear pact.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of repeatedly violating the INF Treaty, which prevents the U.S. and Russia from possessing any land-based cruise missiles that can strike with a specific range, according to NBC News. 

In a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Pompeo warned Putin that the U.S. will suspend its obligations under the treaty within the next 60 days if Russia does not comply. European NATO members specifically asked for the 60-day deadline.

"We either bury our head in the sand or we take common sense action in response to Russia’s flagrant disregard of the express terms of the INF Treaty," Pompeo said.

Furthermore, for the first time all 29 member countries agreed, finding Russia in “material breach” of the arms control pact. The NATO foreign ministers issued full support of the U.S. in the warnings.

"We call on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance," reads the NATO statement following Tuesday’s meeting. "It is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty."

In response to Pompeo’s announcement, Russian spokesperson Maria Zakharova told Russian state news agency Tass that “Russia scrupulously abides by the provisions of the treaty, and the U.S. side knows this.” She works for Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Pompeo said the U.S. has held at least 30 discussions with the Russians over five years concerning compliance with the treaty. “We’re hopeful they’ll change course,” he said. “But there’s been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so.”

In the same vein, Mattis accused Putin of “duplicitous violation of the INF Treaty on Saturday.

Pompeo accused Russia of myriad offenses in breaking the treaty, including cheating on the arms control agreement, election meddling, the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent in the United Kingdom and firing on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait—plus “a long list of alleged Russian transgressions around the globe” in places like Georgia, Ukraine and Syria.

The INF Treaty terms prevent Russia and the U.S. from possessing land-based cruise missiles that can strike within a range of 310 to 3,410 miles. The purpose of the treaty focused on banning ground-based nuclear weapons in Europe. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signed the INF treaty in 1987.

The U.S. has accused Russia of other treaty violations in recent years, including deploying a cruise missile in 2017, testing a prohibited cruise missile during the Obama administration and flight-testing the SSC-8 cruise missile at unacceptable ranges since the mid-2000s.

“Its range makes it a direct menace to Europe,” Pompeo said.

Despite the repeated warnings, he said Russia’s consistent denial of violations and issuing “baseless counteraccusations” must stop. He said the INF Treaty members would welcome Russia’s return to compliance.

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