Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday that Moscow regrets the US tests of cruise missiles banned under the INF Treaty. According to the diplomat, the US move serves as proof that Washington has long been preparing to dismantle the accord.
"We are worried by the United States' firm intention to ... boost destabilising potential exactly in the sphere that has been until recently solidly regulated by the treaty that the United States exited slightly over two weeks ago", the diplomat said.
Ryabkov underlined that Russia will not be dragged into an arms race and will not deploy missiles anywhere unless the United States does so.
"We would like to emphasise that we have taken what happened calmly. We have assumed that the situation would develop in this direction. However, we will not be dragged into a costly arms race. As President Putin said yesterday in France, we confirm our staunch commitment to our unilateral moratorium on the deployment of such systems until the US deploys them elsewhere in the world", Ryabkov said.
Moscow has noted that the United States conducted the recent missile test very shortly after exiting the deal, the deputy foreign minister stressed.
"It is almost impossible to conduct such events [tests] in such a [short] period of time, if preparations have not been underway in advance. So, we have got perceivable proof that Washington has long been preparing to withdraw from the INF, both politically, in terms of propaganda and in terms of defence", Ryabkov said.
The Pentagon earlier reported that they had tested a conventional ground-launched cruise missile previously banned under the INF Treaty. The projectile successfully hit its target after more than 500 kilometres of flight.
The INF Treaty, signed during the Cold War era, came to an end on 2 August after the United States repeatedly accused Russia of breaching the accord, a claim denied by Moscow.
Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty required that the two countries eliminate and permanently refrain from the development of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).