The survival of a key nuclear arms control treaty was cast further in doubt on Tuesday after the U.S. and Russia blamed each other for pushing the agreement to the brink of collapse.
Senior diplomats from both countries met in Geneva amid widespread concern over the fate of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which successfully put an end to a mini-arms race after it was signed in 1987.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in October that his country would pull out of the deal unless Russia stops violating it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to develop nuclear missiles banned under the treaty if it is scrapped.
“The meeting was disappointing as it is clear Russia continues to be in material breach of the Treaty and did not come prepared to explain how it plans to return to full and verifiable compliance,” U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Andrea Thompson, said in a statement.
“Our message was clear: Russia must destroy its non-compliant missile system.”
Thompson will be in Brussels on Wednesday, where she plans to brief NATO allies on the INF talks.
U.S. ‘fully’ to blame
Russia hosted the negotiations at its mission in Geneva and Moscow’s delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Ryabkov said that if the deal is ditched, “responsibility for this fully and completely rests with the American side,” according to quotes published by Russian news agencies after the talks.
He added that the parties had failed to agree on anything and Washington did not appear to be in the mood for more negotiations.
“We are forced to acknowledge that there is no movement forward,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
“We are ready for dialogue on the basis of equality, mutual respect, (and) without putting forward ultimatums.”