The United States warned Russia on Tuesday it will withdraw from a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms if Moscow does not dismantle missiles that Washington says breach it within 60 days.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would no longer be bound by the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty unless Moscow withdraws a new system that has threatened to trigger an arms race.
President Vladimir Putin yesterday dismissed US claims Russia is violating the treaty, as a senior general lashed out at Washington's attempts to "contain" Moscow.
"First the American side stated its intention to withdraw from the treaty... then it began to look for the justifications for doing so," Putin said in comments carried by Russian news agencies.
"The primary justification is that we are violating something. At the same time, as usual, no evidence of violations on our part has been provided," he said.
The comments echoed earlier statements from the Russian foreign ministry, which dismissed the accusations against Moscow as "groundless".
In October, President Donald Trump sparked global concern by declaring the United States would pull out of the deal and build up America's nuclear stockpile "until people come to their senses".
But on Monday, the US leader said he wants talks with Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping "to head off a major and uncontrollable arms race".
Meanwhile, the Russian Army Chief of Staff Vasily Gerasimov said that Moscow would increase the capabilities of its ground-based strategic nuclear arms.
EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini yesterday pleaded for the treaty to be saved, warning that Europe did not want to become a battlefield for global powers once again, as it had been during the Cold War.
"The INF has guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now," Mogherini said.