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Russia keeps a close eye on U.S. over plans to deploy INF weapons

A plane flies in the sky with the U.S. national flags in the foreground in Washington, D.C., the United States, on July 21, 2020. U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday afternoon that the coronavirus pandemic in the United States will probably "get worse before it gets better." More than 3.8 million people in the United States have infected with the virus, with more than 141,000 deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, as some states, including Florida, are seeing a surge in cases. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Moscow will closely monitor U.S. steps to deploy weapons systems previously banned by the arms-control Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Europe, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

“We are closely monitoring any U.S. steps to implement destabilizing plans that involve the deployment of these weapons,” Zakharova said during her weekly press briefing.

She noted that this was particularly significant, considering Russia’s moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

“I would like to remind you that the viability of the Russian moratorium is directly linked to the emergence of (these) American missiles … in the relevant regions,” Zakharova said.

Zakharova clarified that the weapon system under discussion was the containerized MK-70 launcher. The system, not only used for SM-6 missiles, has been adapted and can be used to fire long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles.

She said that Washington has begun preparing to transfer these missile systems, previously prohibited under the INF treaty, to Europe.

In 2019, the United States officially announced its withdrawal from the INF Treaty.

The United States and the former Soviet Union signed the INF Treaty in 1987, which prohibited possessing, developing and testing ground-launched missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km.

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