Russia reserves its right to respond to U.S. withdrawal from INF

(VOVWORLD) - Russia reserves the right to and will respond if the United States finally quits a landmark nuclear arms control pact with Russia, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The ministry's spokesperson Maria Zakharova made the remarks to Rossiya-1 TV channel after the Trump administration announced that the United States is leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday morning that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty, citing Russia's violation of the deal, a claim that has been repeatedly denied by Moscow.

The US move, made nearly 60 days after Washington threatened to quit the historic INF Treaty, will start a six-month countdown period, which will lead to a permanent exit from the pact inked in 1987 between the United States and the then-Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, head of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, said that "the United States confirmed its intention to finish off another important pillar in the field of arms control."

The INF Treaty marked the first-ever pact reached by Washington and Moscow on nuclear disarmament and a major step forward in restricting the arms race.

However, the two sides have been accusing each other of violating the arms control agreement in recent years amid increasing tensions.