Russian officials said Sunday that the U.S. statement on its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) could be seen as "blackmail," warning that cancelling the treaty would be very dangerous.
Head of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said that the INF Treaty stipulates a unilateral pullout is only possible under "exceptional circumstances" with their substantiation within six months.
"So far, no formal steps have been taken in this regard, which gives grounds to consider (U.S. President Donald) Trump's statement as an attempt of continuing blackmail rather than an accomplished act of law," Kosachev said on Facebook.
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Washington would pull out of the INF Treaty on account of Russia's alleged breach of the agreement.
Kosachev warned that Washington's possible withdrawal from the treaty might cause its Western allies to take the same path, which could trigger a war.
"The situation is critical, and the threats to peace are getting a particular shape," he said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said that the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty would be a very dangerous step, and condemned by the international community.
"Apparently, inability and unwillingness to come to terms with us on a sound foundation push certain forces in Washington to encourage the country's leadership to make a decision on a formal withdrawal from the treaty," he said.
Russia expects that U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is arriving in Moscow on Sunday, will clarify Washington's stance on this matter, Ryabkov said.
The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the Soviet Union and the United States on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.
Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the arms control agreement in recent years amid increasing tensions between the two countries.