Russia: U.S. protests over INF treaty pave way to end of START pact

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Geneva, Switzerland, November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

MILAN (Reuters) - Russia believes the United States is ultimately trying to ruin the New START nuclear weapons treaty by moving to exit the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

A senior U.S. official said on Thursday that Russia must scrap its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missiles and launchers or modify the weapons’ range to return to compliance with the 1987 INF treaty and avert a U.S. pullout from the pact.

“The impression is given that the ground is simply being prepared for this document (New START) also to be ruined as a result,” Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in Milan.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff

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