Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (February 2, 2019)
On February 2, the US Department of State issued a press statement officially notifying the Russian Federation that the United States had suspended its obligations under the 1987 Soviet-US Treaty on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) and had launched the procedure of withdrawing from it. At the same time, the Americans announced that they no longer consider themselves to be bound by the treaty obligations, which means that they can openly design, produce and deploy the weapon systems prohibited under the treaty.
By doing this, Washington, whose compliance with the INF Treaty we questioned for many years, has entered the path towards destroying the treaty, thereby delivering yet another crushing blow at the arms control system that took decades of painstaking efforts to create. This move will certainly have dramatic and far-flung consequences for the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability, primarily in Europe. Responsibility for this will rest fully and squarely with the United States.
Russia has done its best to preserve the treaty. We tried many times to engage the Americans in a professional discussion and proposed practical initiatives that could help settle mutual complaints. Showing goodwill, we adopted unprecedented transparency measures that went beyond the framework of the treaty obligations. However, all our attempts were disregarded or blocked by the United States, which has long opted for destroying the INF Treaty so as to remove any restrictions that hindered the build-up of its missile potential.
In light of the new threats created by Washington, we will have to take the necessary measures to ensure our national security. Russia reserves the right to reciprocate by launching the design, production and deployment of ground-launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on February 2 that Russia, aware of its role in preserving international peace and security, would not deploy intermediate- or shorter-range weapons in Europe or anywhere else until US weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world. If Washington revises its destructive policy and resumes its obligations under the INF Treaty, we will be ready to conduct a meaningful dialogue on the treaty or any other subjects of strategic stability based on mutual consideration and respect for one another’s interests, as well as the interests of the international community.
Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the NATO Council Statement on the INF Treaty developments (February 4, 2019)
We have read the NATO Council statement of February 1, 2019 and noted that it was released much earlier than we received a formal notification from the United States about suspending its participation in the 1987 Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles and beginning the exit procedure.
Such haste is no surprise for Russia. This is yet another demonstration of the fact that NATO has fully blended with Washington’s line aimed at the final scrapping of the arms control system painstakingly built over many years.
The collapse of the INF Treaty will have grave and far-reaching consequences for the entire European security architecture NATO is allegedly deeply concerned about – and naturally, for the US allies in Europe.
The NATO Council statement lacks elementary logic: the United States is withdrawing from the Treaty, but NATO is going to “contain” Russia. As a reminder, in recent years, it was Moscow that was persistently and consistently trying to lead the US to a specific professional conversation so as to strengthen the viability of the INF and preserve its guiding role for strategic stability.
Russia has initiated several briefings and other transparency measures going far beyond its obligations under the Treaty. The situation around the INF Treaty was discussed on our proposal at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) on October 31, 2018. And on January 25, 2019 we organised a special briefing at the RNC on the matter at the Deputy Foreign Minister level.
Unfortunately, NATO countries were not ready for meaningful dialogue on the Mk-41 launchers deployed in Romania, which will be extended to Poland next year in violation of the provisions of the INF. These launchers are integrated into the NATO missile defence system, so the alliance is also directly responsible for the undermining of the Treaty.
If the US’ European allies are really interested in maintaining effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, they should not blindly follow the course of American policy aimed at achieving military superiority, but should be guided by fundamental security interests and prevent Europe from being again turned into an arena of confrontation that will become inevitable if the United States begins to deploy this class of missiles.Russia will further stick to this responsible approach.