MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Wednesday dismissed Washington’s accusations that it has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty as “unfounded”, and said it had its own complaints against the United States over the treaty.
“We have amassed many complaints to the U.S. in the context of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty. This includes... production of armed drones by the Americans, which...fall into the category of ground-based cruise missiles as defined by the Treaty,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry was reacting to Washington’s allegations that Moscow had violated the 1988 accord.
The exchange of the accusations took place amid the deepest East-West rift since the end of the Cold War over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis and the EU and United States economic sanctions against Moscow.
The treaty was designed to eliminate ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 km (310 to 3,400 miles).
The United States has called for senior-level talks, while Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the problems over the treaty should be resolved “in working regime”.
On Wednesday, NATO said the United States had briefed ambassadors from the 27 other NATO countries on its determination that Russia was in violation of its obligations under the treaty.
“Russia should work constructively to resolve this critical treaty issue and preserve the viability of the INF Treaty by returning to full compliance in a verifiable manner,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels; Editing by Angus MacSwan