The United States and the European Union agreed on Monday to escalate sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of a passenger jet over East Ukraine. Washington has accused Moscow of violating a Cold War era arms control treaty.
In another sign of deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia, the U.S. government said on Monday that Moscow had violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty, and urged immediate bilateral talks on the issue.
The Cold War treaty, ratified in 1988, was designed to eliminate ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 km (310 to 3,400 miles).
“This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now,” an administration official said in a statement.
“We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner,” the official said. The United States notified Russia of its determination and called for senior-level talks “with the aim of assuring the United States that Russia will come back into compliance” with the treaty.
“The United States will, of course, consult with allies on this matter to take into account the impact of this Russian violation on our collective security if Russia does not return to compliance,” the official said.
The official did not describe how Russia violated the treaty. But a senior State Department official told lawmakers on Capitol Hill in April that there were concerns Russia was not complying with the agreement.
Anita Friedt, principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and strategic policy, told the April hearing that the State Department had raised the concerns with Russia and briefed NATO allies.
The New York Times reported in January that Washington informed its NATO partners that Russia had tested a ground-launched cruise missile in a move it said raised serious concerns about Moscow’s treaty compliance.
Earlier on Monday, the United States and the European Union agreed to escalate sanctions against Russia’s financial, defense and energy sectors in the wake of the downing of a passenger jet over Eastern Ukraine.
The coordinated measures came as the United States warned of a Russian troop buildup along the border with eastern Ukraine and the shipment of new sophisticated weapons to pro-Russian separatists.
The new sanctions, which Obama and leaders of Germany, Britain, France and Italy discussed in a rare five-way conference call by video and phone, are aimed at increasing the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that the sanctions would not achieve their goal and only make Russia more economically independent.
"(Sanctions) simply cannot achieve (their aim) ... I assure you, we will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength," he told a news conference.
Obama and top aides have been working behind the scenes to convince European allies to impose sanctions against Russia that are on par with U.S. sanctions. Europe’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine has been more tepid than that of the United States because its economy is more entwined with Russia’s.
Date created : 2014-07-29