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US Criticizes Russia as Serial Violator of Arms Control Treaties

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, visits a new power plant in Crimea, part of Moscow's efforts to upgrade the region's infrastructure in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 18, 2019.

A senior U.S. official accuses Russia of breaching several arms control treaties considered critical for maintaining world peace. Assistant Secretary of State Yleem Poblete spoke at the U.N. Conference on Disarmament as the United States assumed the rotating presidency of the body.

Poblete made a blistering attack against what she called Russia’s aggressive, destabilizing activities. She cites Moscow’s invasion of neighboring countries, the annexation of Crimea and its failure to comply with arms control treaties as actions that threaten global stability.

She says there are many concerns regarding Russia’s observance of the Biological Weapons Convention. She says Russia’s use of a military-grade nerve agent in an assassination attempt in Britain, as well as its tolerance of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, are a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

She says Russia’s development and fielding of a ground-launched cruise missile is in clear violation of the INF or Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

“The Russian Federation’s violation of the INF Treaty poses a direct threat to European, U.S., East Asian, and global security," Poblete said. "It is destabilizing and has a corrosive effect on arms control and disarmament.”

The United States warns it will withdraw from the INF Treaty in August if Moscow does not live up to the terms of the accord. Poblete refers to Russia as a malign actor. She says Russia is not a responsible actor that intends to uphold its obligations under arms control and disarmament agreements.

The Russian representative at the meeting did not react to the accusations. He said his country’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, would respond to what he called America’s unfounded claims at a speech to the Conference on Disarmament Wednesday.