4 Feb, 2019
Moscow tried to arrange “substantial” disarmament talks for years, but ‘partners’ didn’t support this initiative, the Russian president said while announcing the suspension of the INF Treaty in a ‘mirror’ response to US steps.
“Over many years we suggested frequently and regularly conducting substantial talks on almost all aspects of disarmament,” Vladimir Putin said. “ But recently we have seen that our initiatives are not supported by our partners. On the contrary new pretexts for dismantling the existing system of international security are being created.”
Moscow’s decision to suspend their participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) comes a day after Washington announced its withdrawal from the agreement that was the cornerstone of European security since then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed it in 1987.
The agreement banned ground-based missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km and Putin insisted that Moscow would not be the first country to position those.
“Russia will not deploy intermediate or smaller ranger weapons, if such arms appear, in Europe nor in other parts of the world, until the same type of American weapons placed there,” he said.
Washington has accused Moscow of violating the INF treaty with its 9M729 missile, claiming it exceeds the permitted range. Moscow denied that it had broken the treaty, and offered additional mutual inspections and unveiled extra details about the missile at a public event in late December. The Americans didn’t appear.
Meanwhile Washington started “testing drones that matched the characteristics” of ground-based cruise missiles banned in the treaty and “installed MK 41 launching systems for the defense shield in Europe that can be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles without any modification,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
He insisted that Moscow “attempted to do everything we could to rescue the treaty” and listed the steps Russia was taking over the years for global disarmament that were not met by Washington.
In 2002 the US withdrew from the Cold War-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty effectively terminating it despite Russia’s objections. It led to the deployment of missile defense systems in Europe that made Moscow concerned about its security. Up until the US announced the end of “the dialogue on missile defense” in 2014, Russia had made a number of attempts to conduct consultations and discussions, but with little response from the US and its European allies.
Lavrov said that Russia is concerned about the US violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NTP) by conducting drills on the use of nuclear weapons with the countries that are not nuclear-weapon states. Moscow’s suggestions to start talks on another crucial treaty, New START, that limits the strategic offensive arms and expires in 2021 hasn’t received any response from Washington, Lavrov said.
Putin emphasized that while Moscow’s offers on modernizing the 1987 treaty and making it more transparent “are still on the table,” no more talks should be initiated with the Americans to try and save it.
“Let’s wait until our partners mature sufficiently to hold a level, meaningful conversation on this topic, which is extremely important for us, them, and the entire world,” Putin said.