[JURIST] Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] threatened to withdraw Russia from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty [US DOS backgrounder] Friday unless the treaty is expanded to include neighboring countries such as China, India and Pakistan. The treaty, signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in 1987, requires signatories to disarm their ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment. Putin has asserted that Russia cannot remain a signatory to the treaty if neighboring countries can continue to develop their own intermediate-range weapons.
Putin's comments came just before a meeting in Moscow between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov [official profiles]. During the talks, the US rejected [AFP report] Russia's request for the US to freeze plans for an anti-missile defense shield in central Europe. In June, Russia also threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty [text; backgrounder] amid tensions between the US and Russia over the anti-missile defense proposal, which Russia perceives to be a threat to Russian national security. The Guardian has more.