INF Treaty
The INF Treaty was signed between Mikhail Gorbachev (l.), president of the Soviet Union, and President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Russia is in violation of a treaty with the U.S. that prohibits the possession or production of intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles, Washington said Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in 1987, was a pact to reduce security threats in Europe, including short-warning attacks “on targets of strategic importance.” The statement made no mention of the crisis in Ukraine, in which Russia has been accused of supplying rebels with weapons and firing artillery from Moscow’s border. It also did not say whether NATO agrees with the U.S. claims that Moscow has violated the treaty.

“The treaty has a special place in history, as it required the verifiable elimination of an entire class of missiles possessed by the United States and the Soviet Union. It remains a key element of Euro-Atlantic security -- one that benefits our mutual security and must be preserved,” Rasmussen said. “Russia should work constructively to resolve this critical treaty issue and preserve the viability of the INF Treaty by returning to full compliance in a verifiable manner. Continuing to uphold the treaty strengthens the security of all, including Russia.”

The statement came a day after Washington and the European Union announced new sanctions against Russia. The penalties targeted the banking, energy and defense sectors of Moscow’s economy, and were levied in response to the crisis in Ukraine.