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    NATO Manipulates Facts to Disguise US Withdrawal From INF - Kremlin

    Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
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    On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington will suspend its compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty within 60 days "unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance".

    “Indeed, we have seen statements from various sides, a statement from the NATO leadership, the North Atlantic Alliance. Certainly, it’s about escalating the situation, it’s largely about manipulating the facts to camouflage the true goals to get the United States of America out of the INF Treaty", Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday.

    READ MORE: Russia Will Develop 'Unique' Weapons if US Exits INF Treaty — Senior Lawmaker

    The statement comes amid recent clashes on the issue between Moscow and Washington because the US decided to suspend its compliance, claiming that Russia was "in material breach of the treaty". Moscow, in turn, has denied those accusations, stressing the US itself is undermining the agreement.

    The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by the then head of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and then US President Ronald Reagan. The leaders agreed to destroy all cruise or ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (310 and 3,400 miles).

    Nord Stream-2 Politicization Risks

    Peskov also addressed the political issues around the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project.

    "The risks associated with the politicization of the Nord Stream, the risks associated with blatant manifestations of unfair competition from third countries in relation to the Nord Stream, exist. We see them well and are aware of this," he stressed.

    The $10.9 billion pipeline, expected to become operational in 2019, aims to build the delivery capacity of up to 55 billion cubic meters of additional Russian natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea. The project has encountered opposition from a number of European countries, including Ukraine, which profits from gas transit from Russia to Europe, while Washington has urged the EU to abandon it in favour of American LNG.

    Reaction to Kerch Strait Incident

    The presidential spokesman repeated that the destiny of the Ukranian sailors, detained by the Russian Border Guards in Kerch Strait would be decided by a court, and Kremlin would not intervene in legal procedure despite the criticism from abroad.

    “The voiced criticism… and so on — this is not a reason for Russia to give up the procedures prescribed by law for violators of the state border. These procedures are carried out and will continue to be carried out,” Peskov told reporters when asked about the possibility of imposition of sanctions on Russia and the Nord Stream-2 project.

    READ MORE: State Dept Says Kerch Incident Should Remind EU Why Nord Stream 2 'a Bad Idea'

    He noted that Moscow would likely study Kiev's proposals on exchanging the detained Ukrainian sailors if it received such proposals, but it was not sure about Kiev's response.

    On November 25, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels and their 24 crew members were arrested by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop.

    According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the incident was a provocation prepared as a pretext to introduce martial law in Ukraine ahead of the presidential election.

    Related:

    If INF Cancelled Russia's Responsive Steps to Target States Housing US Missiles
    US's 60-Day Notice Over INF Treaty Fuels Fear of US-Russian Arms Race - Scholars
    Beijing Opposes INF Becoming Multilateral Treaty
    US Not Interested in Maintaining INF Treaty, NATO Ready For Arms Race - Analysts
    Tags:
    INF Treaty, Mike Pompeo, Dmitry Peskov, United States, Russia
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