Comment by the Information and Press Department on the NATO Council statement on the INF Treaty developments
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.