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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia May Opt Out of Arms Treaty

General Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff, said Thursday that Moscow might unilaterally opt out of a key Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the United States that banned medium-range missiles.

Baluyevsky said Russia could pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

The decision would depend on whether the United States fulfilled its plan to deploy missile-defense components in Poland and the Czech Republic -- plans that have upset Moscow.

"We shall see what our American partners do," Baluyevsky was quoted by news agencies as saying. "Their actions to deploy missile defense sites in Europe are inexplicable."

Also Thursday, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he and his twin brother Lech, Poland's president, were in favor of placing a U.S. anti-missile facility on Polish soil.

President Vladimir Putin has said he does not trust U.S. claims that the deployment of missile-defense components in Europe was intended to counter missile threats from Iran, and warned that Russia would take retaliatory actions.

At a security conference in Munich last Saturday, Putin said the arms reduction treaty was outdated, and that many countries had since developed medium-range missiles.

The statement was part of larger speech in which Putin assailed U.S. policy and said Moscow viewed NATO's expansion to its borders as a threat.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have been strained also by disagreements on Iraq and other global crises, and by U.S. concerns about Russia's democracy record and that it is strong-arming former Soviet republics.

Baluyevsky said Thursday that the treaty allowed both Russia and the United States to walk out of it. Building on Putin's remarks, he said the deployment of medium-range missiles by many other countries provided a strong argument for leaving the treaty.

(AP, Reuters)