Russia has announced it is suspending participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty — one day after the US declared it would pull out of the agreement unless Moscow complies with its terms within 180 days. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the move on Saturday, according to the Kremlin’s official website. Putin held a special meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu following Friday’s decision by the US to suspend compliance with the INF treaty, a key pact with Russia that has been a centerpiece of European security since the Cold War.
A former US Marine charged with espionage by Russia was unaware that a computer memory stick given to him in Moscow contained state secrets, his lawyer said today. Paul Whelan, 48, was arrested in a hotel near the Kremlin by FSB officers on December 28. Russian media, citing security service sources, said he was seized shortly after receiving a secret list of Russian agents from a contact. Mr Whelan, who also has British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, traveled to Russia frequently over the past decade. He faces up to 20 years in a penal colony if found guilty.
An explosion and a fire involving two tanker ships near the contested Kerch Strait, the waterway separating Crimea from mainland Russia, left at least 11 sailors dead on Monday and several missing, according to Russian news reports. Initial reports suggested that a fire and an explosion on one ship had spread to the second. In late November, a clash between Russian and Ukraine naval forces not far from the bridge led to Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and the arrest of 24 sailors, who remain in jail.
A man who says he is the brother of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan — who was arrested in Moscow last week on suspicion of spying — is proclaiming his brother’s innocence and providing more detail to an opaque case. On Tuesday, David Whelan tweeted a family statement, saying Paul Whelan was in Moscow to attend a wedding and that the family grew concerned after not hearing from the retired U.S. Marine on Friday, “which was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling.”
Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, has detained a US citizen accused of spying, it announced on Monday. The FSB, the successor of the Soviet-era KGB, said in a statement that the American was arrested on Friday “while carrying out an act of espionage”. News of the detention comes on the day after Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, expressed a desire for better relations with the US in 2019. Russia has sought to improve relations with the west after a year in which diplomacy was at its frostiest since the cold war.
Russia announced on Monday that it built barracks for troops on a chain of disputed islands near Japan. Both Moscow and Tokyo claim sovereignty over the islands which were seized by Soviet forces at the end of WWII. Japan will increase military power over the next five years in order to counter Russia and China.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned it plans to build missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US breaks the deal. Putin’s statement came after NATO accused Russia of having already violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987. Putin claims many other countries already developed weapons banned under the pact.
Following a naval clash between Russia and Ukraine over the weekend, President canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump’s decision also followed his longtime personal lawyer’s guilty plea to lying to Congress about developments in Russia. The meeting was set to take place in two days at the G20 summit.
The head of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, General Igor Korobov, has died aged 62, Russia’s defense ministry says. The GRU was this year linked to a nerve agent attack in Britain on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Gen Korobov is understood to have faced criticism by Russian officials over the failure of the operation. Gen Korobov is said to have died after “a serious and long illness” on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia will target any EU countries that host US nuclear missiles after the US decision to withdraw from the arms control treaty. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) halted plans by US-based startup OneWeb to bring internet access to rural and remote parts of Russia.