Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s opening remarks at the briefing on the termination of the INF Treaty, Moscow, August 5, 2019
On August 2, six months after Washington initiated the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the USSR and the US in 1987, the treaty has been terminated for all parties: the US, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
This means that a key treaty for establishing the regional and global security architecture no longer exists. Under the INF Treaty, the parties eliminated two classes of nuclear armaments: land-based intermediate-range and shorter range missiles. The missile launchers and all the associated support facilities and equipment were also destroyed.
Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty has dealt a great blow to the arms control system, which took decades to build. Far-reaching negative consequences for the entire architecture of global security and strategic stability are inevitable.
The US is entirely to blame for this. It was the American side that buried the INF Treaty by launching and completing the procedure for its unilateral withdrawal, while Russia consistently protected the treaty until the very end. In fact, it is completely incorrect to say that Russia has also withdrawn from the treaty and shares the responsibility, as some foreign officials and several media do.
Russia did everything possible to save the INF Treaty. In recent years, as soon as the US began moving towards the withdrawal from the treaty, we tried many times to start a constructive conversation with the Americans. We proposed a number of initiatives that would have made it possible to resolve the claims from both sides and save the INF Treaty. Russia was transparent beyond the treaty’s provisions.
However, all our efforts were ignored or turned down by Washington. Unfortunately, the US’s true goal was not to keep the INF Treaty but to get rid of the bans and restrictions on the buildup of the US missile potential. The US was purposefully working to untie its hands so that it can use an unlimited range of military tools to exert military pressure on any rival or opponent in the world.
The US deliberately plunged the INF Treaty into a crisis that was almost impossible to overcome in order to cover its actions. Instead of a professional and detailed discussion of the acute issues we were insisting on, they decided to dramatically escalate the situation. A misleading and irresponsible propaganda campaign was launched against us as a smokescreen as Washington tried to distort everything and present the matter as if the US is withdrawing from the Treaty due to Russia’s behaviour.
The US made another awkward attempt to justify its actions on the eve of the treaty termination date. On July 30, a so-called fact sheet with totally facts was published on the Department of State’s website. It was another propagandist-planted lie that has little to do with reality.
The reality is that the US has presented no evidence of Russia violating the INF Treaty over the years of discussing all the treaty-related problems. Nevertheless, the US gave an ultimatum that it would only return to the treaty if Russia completely and verifiably destroyed all the 9M729 missiles allegedly prohibited by the treaty, as well as all the launchers and associated equipment, and agree to future inspections. It is clear that this position is unacceptable for us.
I would like to repeat that the 9M729 land-based cruise missile, the existence of which we have never hidden, was not designed or tested for the prohibited range. Russia has fully complied with the INF Treaty since the day it came into effect. We have refuted all the US’s allegations, which are completely groundless.
In fact, the US never took the necessary actions to address all its violations of the treaty, above all the deployment of Mk 41 launchers that have the capability to launch intermediate-range cruise missiles, which is prohibited by the treaty. There has also been no breakthrough regarding the target missiles the US launches to test their missile defence system but with properties equivalent to those of ballistic intermediate-range missiles, as well as regarding missile drones that fully meet the definition of a “land-based cruise missile.”
Washington began to undermine the INF Treaty long ago and has finally destroyed it. We can see that the US is trying to do away with all the international agreements that do not suit it in some way. The collapse of the INF Treaty, which is similar to the US’s withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002 on the scale of destructive consequences, means that Washington’s dismantling of the existing nuclear missile control system is speeding up.
This dangerous trend is accompanied by US officials’ statements on their readiness to build up nuclear armaments. The uncertainty about the future of the last Russian-US restricting and verifying mechanism in the nuclear arms sphere, the New START that expires in February 2021, also fits this trend.
Of course, in the face of new threats from the US, we will take comprehensive measures to ensure our own security. And, as President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on February 2, Russia will not deploy land-based intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe or other regions unless the US places armaments of the same class there.
We call on the United States to show responsibility and, following Russia’s example, to renounce deploying missiles of these classes, which the Pentagon has been actively discussing. Russia remains open to equitable and constructive dialogue with the United States on the INF Treaty and other issues related to the strategic security based on mutual trust and consideration of each other’s interests. We hope that the United States adopts a responsible approach to this matter. The Russian-US consultations on arms control with an emphasis on nuclear missiles that resumed in Geneva on July 17 must continue.
Thank you for your attention.
I am ready to answer your questions.