Russia proposes new missile verification regime with U.S. after demise of treaty

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin is reflected in the Moskva river as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Moscow, Russia May 16, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Monday proposed that Russia and the United States agree not to deploy certain land-based missiles in Europe and introduce mutual verification measures to build trust following the demise of the INF nuclear arms control treaty.

The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge denied by the Kremlin.

Global nuclear arms control architecture has come under further strain since then as the former Cold War foes have been unable to agree on a replacement to New START, another major arms control pact that is due to expire in February 2021.

On Monday, the Kremlin suggested “de-escalation” measures, such as allowing Russia to conduct checks on the U.S. Aegis Ashore system in Europe, and the United States to check Russia’s 9M729 missiles in facilities in the exclave of Kaliningrad.

“We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

The INF pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn