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Lavrov: US has ‘no proof’ Russia deployed missile in violation of treaty

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (en.Kremlin.ru/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has lashed out at the United States, accusing Washington of failing to provide proof that Moscow deployed a missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the INF Treaty following years of accusations that Moscow had developed a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the pact’s restrictions.

The move, reciprocated by Moscow, has sparked concerns of a new arms race between the world’s leading nuclear-armed powers.

“We’ve been asking the Americans for several years to present concrete facts that might confirm the alleged violations, but they have emphatically refused to do so,” Lavrov told a nuclear nonproliferation conference in Moscow on November 8 in comments quoted by the Interfax news agency.

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Lavrov also said Russia would deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe if the United States did so first, repeating a vow that President Vladimir Putin has already made.

Western officials, however, have dismissed that, saying that the Russian missile in question — known as the 9M729 — has already been deployed to units positioned in parts of Russia’s European territories.

The demise of the INF, and the nascent arms race, have also fueled fears of other major arms-control treaties collapsing; such as the New START, a broader, more comprehensive agreement that is set to expire in 2021 unless Moscow and Washington agree to extend it.