Russia accuses US of violating arms control treaty

Russia accuses US of violating arms control treaty
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Russia is accusing the U.S. of violating an arms control treaty by selling Japan two U.S. missile defense systems. 

Moscow claims the sale violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was reached between the two countries 30 years ago. 

"Actions like these are in direct contradiction to the priority of building military and political trust between Russia and Japan, and, unfortunately, will impact in a negative way on the whole atmosphere in bilateral relations, including negotiations over the peace treaty problem," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

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"In practice, it will mean one more breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by the Americans with, in fact, Japan's assistance," she added. 

Zakharova's comments come after Japan announced it would buy two U.S.-constructed Aegis Ashore missile defense systems as the country grapples with the growing threat from North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF treaty in the past, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have grown in recent days. 

Zakharova accused the State Department on Thursday of directly interfering in Russia's upcoming presidential elections after the U.S. condemned the Kremlin banning Alexei Navalny, an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, from running.

“This State Department statement, which I’m sure will be repeated, is a direct interference in our electoral process and internal affairs,” Zakharova said. 

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.