Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on US and British plans to deploy land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles
Pentagon officials have been making increasingly more statements during the past few weeks on practical actions to create and deploy land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, which were previously prohibited under the INF Treaty which Washington has destroyed, around the world as soon as possible. It is a fact that the United States is working on a broad range of such weapons, including hypersonic missile systems. Progress in the R&D and trials of such weapons has been reported. In addition to this, the US military are establishing special cross-functional teams for the development and deployment of such weapons, two of them in Asia Pacific and one in Europe. The task of the missiles to be deployed in Europe will be to render air defence systems ineffective and to “punch a hole in the anti-access and area denial systems” of the adversary in conditions of a conflict with Russia.
The UK military have joined in these openly hostile and destabilising statements. They have announced the intention to upgrade the 44 US-made M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), which are currently in-service, including so that the launchers will also be able to fire the US’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). According to a UK Army’s press release, these weapons will have “global deep fires capability,” ready to neutralise the long-range air defence systems of hostile actors.
We have taken note of the Anglo-Saxon military commanders’ focus on targeting purely defensive systems that are protecting Russia from potential armed attacks. The information provided by the British military about PrSM, which allegedly has a range of 499km, is a clear and deliberate deception, considering the numerous statements made by the missile designers and Pentagon officials about their plans to upgrade the system so that it is capable of hitting targets at a range to up to 800km. The British presentation looks especially cynical after Brigadier General John Rafferty, the Pentagon curator of the project, said two weeks ago that they planned to test-fire the missile to see how much beyond 500 kilometres it can go.
The implementation of these military programmes is gaining momentum, which is definitely reducing the area for a political and diplomatic solution to the post-INF problem and for preventing a serious escalation in the missile sphere. This is taking place in the absence of clear signals on this topic from the political team of the new US administration and the overwhelming majority of the US’s NATO allies, which, as the INF Treaty crisis showed, have taken a conciliatory position on this topic of fundamental significance for European security.
We do not see any constructive response to the Russian initiatives based on a practical proposal to settle the sides’ concerns by adopting mutual moratoriums on the deployment of land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles and coordinating mutual measures to verify compliance with them.
We will continue to closely monitor the practical measures taken by the Americans and their allies in Europe and Asia Pacific to create land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, including with due regard for the plans made public in Britain.
We are not closing the door to dialogue, but it cannot be ruled out in these circumstances that Russia will have to shift the focus increasingly more towards taking military-technical response measures against the arising missile threats.