On 1 February, the US government announced that it was no longer bound by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, and that it would withdraw completely in August.
On 4 March, the Russian government officially suspended its participation in the treaty as well.
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, described the US action as ‘a reckless move’.
The INF treaty banned all US and Soviet ground-launched missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 – 5,500km).
The US charges that Russia has developed a cruise missile with a forbidden range (the US calls it the SSC-8; Russia calls it the 9M729). Russia counters that some US armed drones, and some new ‘target missiles’ developed for testing missile defences, break the spirit if not the letter of the INF treaty.
The US department of defence indicated in mid-March that in the autumn it would begin testing two new missiles that would have been banned under the INF treaty: a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of about 620 miles (1,000km); the other a ballistic missile with a range of 1,830–2,500 miles (3,000–4,000km).
Both would be conventional weapons, the Pentagon said.