Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s comment on anti-Russia attacks by the US over the INF Treaty
Washington has found no better moment than the 30th anniversary of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) that was marked on December 8 to come up with threats against its partner under the Treaty that has become a corner stone in nuclear arms limitation and reduction processes. This is the only way readers can interpret an article in Politico, an internet publication close to the US administration, on its intention to introduce additional sanctions against Russia under the pretext of alleged violations of the INF Treaty. Moreover, the “message” is presented with direct reference to the White House.
The Americans have repeatedly alleged that we are going beyond the framework of the INF Treaty that bans land deployment of cruise missiles with a range from 500 to 5,500 kilometres. But there is an interesting commonality with the notorious claims about “Russian meddling in US elections,” since they provide no real evidence. The only specific mentioned is the index of a Russian missile research project with a range much shorter than the claim suggests. Incidentally, the US can easily see this on its satellite images during field tests.
In other words, these charges are totally unfounded. They are not substantiated by either the technical characteristics of the launcher that allegedly is at variance with the INF Treaty or in-flight telemetry data. There is absolutely nothing to prove these allegations. And we know why: because it is simply non-existent.
At the same time, the United States is brushing aside our concerns with how it is handling its own commitments under the INF Treaty. For example, one can plainly see launchers at the US antimissile base in Deveselu, Romania, whose specifications enable them to launch not only interceptor missiles but also strike missiles like Tomahawks. In 2018, the Pentagon is planning to deploy identical launchers in Poland, although installing them on land is contrary to the INF Treaty.
Moreover, the Americans have openly declared their intention to develop land-based cruise missiles with the prohibited range. So, the anti-Russia propaganda campaign around the INF Treaty looks increasingly like an effort to pass the buck. The increasing charges could be a sign that Washington has decided to withdraw from the treaty like it withdrew from the ABM Treaty. They are looking for a pretext and are trying to create one based on their own conjecture.
We have repeatedly warned them, and are doing so again, that dismantling the INF Treaty would deal a heavy blow to the arms control and non-proliferation processes. The United States must understand what kind of responsibility it will assume.
For our part, we are fully committed to the INF Treaty. We have always strictly complied with it and are prepared to do so in the future. But if the other side ceases to abide by it, we will be forced, as President of Russia Vladimir Putin has indicated, to respond in kind.
As for yet another in a series of attempts to scare us with sanctions, this is laughable. Their expected expansion will only result in the cancellation of the Special Verification Commission’s meeting suggested by the United States. It is high time US politicians and diplomats understand that economic and military pressure on Russia will not work. They should at last get beyond this illusion so that both of us can stop wasting time and make an effort to improve relations, which have fallen into a serious crisis in recent years through the fault of the United States.