Russia Formally Suspends Cold-War Pact After U.S. Pullout

(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree formally suspending compliance with a landmark 1987 nuclear disarmament treaty, a month after the Russian leader announced his country would pull out of the pact in response to a similar step by the U.S.

President Donald Trump on Feb. 1 said the U.S. was halting its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, starting the clock for withdrawal six months later, justifying the decision as a consequence of years of violations by Russia.

The two former Cold War rivals’ moves add to tensions between them, provoking concerns about a renewed arms race amid the likelihood that another key nuclear disarmament agreement may not be extended when it expires in 2021.

“The withdrawal from these two treaties will inexorably increase the chances of a nuclear conflict,” said Alexei Arbatov, a leading Moscow-based disarmament expert. “Both sides are being bloodily obstinate and the fact that the world may become covered in radioactive ash in 10 years doesn’t seem to worry them.”

U.S. officials have said Washington plans to deploy conventional short and medium-sized missiles in Europe that had been banned under the INF treaty, which would trigger a tit-for-tat Russian response. Last month, Putin warned that Russia is developing new weapons that would be able to strike the U.S. as quickly as American medium-range missiles could hit Russian targets.

As soon as the U.S. stations missiles in Europe covered under the INF pact, Russia will place similar weapons on its borders, Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the Russian upper house of parliament’s international affairs committee, told the state-run RIA Novosti news service.

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