15:58 GMT13 May 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jim Risch and Armed Services committee chair Jim Inhofe in a joint statement said the United States will take steps to defend NATO against cruise missiles after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty terminates.

    Friday, 2 August, marks the US official exit from the INF treaty, coming six months to the day after the Trump administration announced it was suspending its obligations.

    "The United States and our NATO allies are also resolved to take the necessary steps to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of NATO’s deterrence and defence posture in a post-INF environment", the lawmakers said on Thursday. "We encourage the Administration to work with our NATO allies to focus on cooperative efforts to develop and field capabilities to defend against cruise missiles, such as those fielded by the Russian military in violation of the treaty".

    The INF Treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 required the United States and Russia to eliminate all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,417 miles).

    Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of INF Treaty violations. The United States has been claiming that Russia allegedly tested and deployed the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile, arguing it has a range of more than 500 kilometers, which contradicts the treaty.

    Russia has denied the allegations and said the US Aegis Ashore MK-41 defence system can be used to launch cruise missiles at prohibited ranges.

    In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow's participation in the INF in a symmetrical response to Washington’s move to pullout.


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