Russian Missile Credit Russian MOD

MPs Blame Russia For End Of Cold War-Era Nuclear Treaty

It comes as Vladimir Putin suspended Russia's participation in the 1987 treaty last month.

Russian Missile Credit Russian MOD

A Russian missile launching off its own soil (Picture: Russian MOD). 

Russia is solely to blame for the end of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, according to the Commons Defence Committee.

It examined the circumstances which led the US to announce it would leave the pact, which MPs accuse Russia of violating.

It comes after Vladimir Putin suspended Russia's participation in the 1987 treaty last month - a decision which followed the US giving notice of its intention to withdraw.

Within the coming months, America is due to terminate the bilateral pact unless Moscow returns to compliance but Russia has denied any breaches and has accused the US of its own violations.

According to the Defence Committee, "if the treaty fails, the sole responsibility for its failure lies with Russia".

With successive US administrations seeking to bring Russia into compliance, the committee said that "each attempt has been met with flat denial and total intransigence" by Moscow.

"The US announcement that it is now seeking to withdraw from the treaty is a justified response to Russia's continuing violation," MPs added.

Defence Committee vice chairman John Spellar said that "as with numerous other agreements in the past decade, President Putin has violated this treaty in a cynical and dangerous fashion".

Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin last year said new Russian weapons had no foreign equivalents (Picture: PA).

Noting how the best but difficult outcome would be to "get the treaty back on track with proper verification", he said that failing that the UK Government should push Nato for a "proportionate response which sends a firm message".

It was at some point in the mid to late 2000s that the Russian government decided to develop and later deploy a missile system - the SSC-8 - in a treaty violation, the cross-party committee said.

The US government claimed the SSC-8 missile system contravenes the treaty, which bans all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (310-3,410 miles).

The committee recommends that evidence of Russia's reintroduction of a ground-launched, intermediate-range missile system should be publicly presented at the UN Security Council.

Not ruling out potential new arms controls agreements with Moscow, MPs also warn that compliance should never be relied upon without "robust and continuing verification requirements".

Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Defence Committee, said the European continent is "less safe as a result of the Russian decision to develop missiles in contravention of the INF Treaty".

"The UK was not a party to this treaty but, like all other Nato members, we must consider the implications of Russian deployment - once again - of missiles designed to threaten Western Europe and decouple the United States from the rest of Nato in a crisis," he added.

The collapse of the INF treaty has stoked fears of a replay of a Cold War-era Europe missile crisis, when America and the Soviet Union deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent during the 1980s.