Answer by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to a RIA Novosti question on the build-up of the United States’ global missile defence system and its readiness to discuss the missile defence agenda in a dialogue with Russia
Question: What is the Foreign Ministry’s attitude towards the US building up its global missile defence system and its readiness to discuss the missile defence agenda in a dialogue with Russia?
Maria Zakharova: In 2002, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty, the cornerstone of strategic stability and the foundation on which further agreements on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms were based. Since that time, Washington has significantly expanded the development of mobile and stationary anti-missile weapons and started a large-scale deployment of those weapons in various regions of the world, integrating them into the US global missile defence system.
They are using various far-fetched pretexts to deploy ground-based anti-missile systems in close proximity to Russian borders. Projects are rapidly unfolding to develop marine vessels, which regularly appear near the Russian coast. The United States is also implementing plans to develop the space segment of its global missile defence system, which actually envisages the deployment of anti-missile strike weapons in space in the future. In addition, in the context of their missile defence efforts, Washington included, at the doctrinal level, the possibility of carrying out “disarming” strikes against the missile capabilities of those countries that the United States considers to be its adversaries.
It should be understood that attempts to present the global missile defence system as a purely defensive project are nothing more than a smoke screen. By building up its anti-missile capabilities, the United States mainly seeks to gain a decisive advantage by creating conditions for dealing the first strike to the enemy and protecting itself from retaliatory actions. This can and is already leading to serious consequences in the security sphere. It is upsetting the strategic balance of power in the world and spurring an arms race, including missiles.
Russian representatives at various levels have repeatedly pointed out to the American side the dangers associated with the unrestricted development of the US global missile defence system. However, the Americans do not accept our arguments. At the same time, they reject the possibility of putting any restrictions on their missile defence activity. In fact, they are deliberately enhancing it, continuously raising the spending on the project. The $18 billion mentioned in recent media reports is the amount the Pentagon is going to spend on just one programme to develop, produce and support its new promising interceptors to replace the strategic silo-based interceptors now deployed on American territory, mainly in Alaska.
The United States is striving for absolute dominance in the military sphere and is banking on a depletion of Russia's nuclear deterrent potential, with an emphasis on creating a global missile defence system. Their other efforts towards the same goal include the expansion of their military space capabilities and the creation of “prompt-strike non-nuclear high-precision weapons.”
For our part, we intend to act in accordance with the task set by the President of Russia to ensure a conflict-free coexistence by maintaining the balance of power and strategic stability.
In our dialogue with Washington on this track, we promote the concept of a comprehensive review of factors affecting strategic stability, embracing all weapons capable of solving strategic problems – nuclear and conventional, offensive and defensive. At the same time, when we discuss strategic defensive systems, we primarily mean due consideration of the missile defence factor.
We do not yet know what positions the Biden administration will take on various aspects of arms control, including the missile defence agenda. At the same time, we are receiving signals from Washington about their intention to discuss strategic stability with us. I hope Washington will adhere to a balanced agenda.
We are ready for a substantive and constructive dialogue. However, we will not agree on anything unless our interests and concerns are taken into account, including in the missile defence sphere. If we succeed in jointly finding a balance of interests, we will then start discussing agreements. Our colleagues in Washington should understand and take this into account.