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EU calls on Russia, US to preserve INF missile treaty

Brussels - The European Union calls upon the United States and Russia to preserve the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, calling it a "cornerstone" of European security.

EU: "Treaty crucial for global security"

"We believe that the US and Russia need to remain engaged in constructive dialogue to preserve the treaty and to ensure its full and verifiable implementation, which of course is crucial for Europe's and global security," says EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.

"We of course expect the Russian Federation to address the concerns regarding its compliance with this treaty in a substantial and transparent way," she adds.

Thanks to the INF treaty, which "contributed to the end of the Cold War," almost 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads have been destroyed, Kocijancic notes.

The US withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty would require Russia to "undertake measures to ensure its security," the Kremlin warned on Monday.

If the US develops intermediate-range nuclear weapons, then Russia would have to follow suit, to "restore the balance," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by media.

US President Donald Trump announced over the weekend that the US was pulling out of the deal on an accusation that Russia had violated it.

The US has said Russia breached the treaty by developing the Novator 9M729 cruise missile, estimated to have a range of 2,600 kilometres.

Withdrawing from deal could herald tensions

The treaty, signed between the United States and the then-Soviet Union in 1987, had sought to restrict nuclear-armed missiles with a range up to 5,500 kilometres.

Peskov rejected accusations that Russia could have violated the deal, saying: "Russia has been and remains committed to the provisions of this agreement," according to comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Russia has alleged that the Western military alliance NATO could have violated the deal with a missile shied in Romania that Russia says has the capability of launching a nuclear missile at any time.

Trump's announcement could herald fresh tensions between the former Cold War rivals. While the US president has repeatedly praised Putin, his administration has taken a tough line against Russia, repeatedly imposing sanctions on it.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton sought to coordinate with Russia on Monday as part of a two-day trip to Moscow.

Bolton conducted talks in the Russian capital with the chief of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, as Russia sought clarification on the issue.

Russia hoped "to hear more details and clarifications on what steps the US side is planning to take," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in comments carried by state media.