Putin: US using ‘far-fetched accusations’ to quit arms deal

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the United States was using “far-fetched accusations” to withdraw from a key Cold War arms treaty.

Putin said he understood concerns about the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement, namely that other countries could continue to develop weapons that are banned for the US and Russia.

“The current state of affairs of course raises questions,” he said during his annual state of the nation address.

“Our American partners should have been hones (...) and not use far-fetched accusations against Russia to justify their unilateral withdrawal from the treaty,” he added.

The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the INF by developing banned weapons and this month President Donald Trump said Washington was starting a process to withdraw from the treaty.

In a tit-for-tat move, Putin said Moscow was also leaving the treaty and beginning work on new types of weapons that would breach the agreement.

Many analysts say abandoning the treaty effectively signaled the start of a new arms race.

The INF deal was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.