NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
Commentary by the Information and Press Department on a remark made by the German Foreign Ministry spokesperson on short- and intermediate-range missiles
German Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Andrea Sasse’s comment of October 26 has come to our attention. The comment followed President Putin’s statement on additional steps to de-escalate the situation in Europe in the wake of the termination of the INF Treaty, in which she expressed solidarity with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s earlier remark that Russia’s moratorium on deploying ground-based short- and intermediate-range missiles allegedly carries little credibility since Russia “itself withdrew from the INF Treaty.”
Such statements are a typical example of a biased and, in fact, knee-jerk reaction, when they do not even make an effort to understand what the Russian proposal is about. This does not reflect well on the German Foreign Ministry official, which, we think, should understand that matters of international security call for a thoughtful analysis, an understanding of the details and taking into account the actual state of affairs.
To begin with, we consider it important to point out that it is absolutely incorrect to talk about Russia’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty. We did not take any action to withdraw. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the treaty, which led to its termination. Russia, on the contrary, remained fully committed to it throughout the entire period of validity and, until the very last minute, made consistent efforts to keep the treaty alive. We had come up with a number of initiatives to settle the existing counterclaims. Once implemented, they could have saved the treaty.
It should also be kept in mind that Berlin insisted on us showing the 9M729 missile “if Russia has nothing to hide.” Specifically, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Sergey Lavrov this. However, when we organised a demonstration of the 9M729 missile, which went far beyond our obligations under the INF Treaty, German officials suddenly lost interest and never showed up. We believe this says a lot.
Now, the situation is repeating itself. On October 26, President Putin, in his statement, proposed considering specific options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns. In particular, we could discuss measures to verify the absence of short- and intermediate-range missiles at Aegis Ashore facilities with Mk-41 launchers at the US and NATO bases in Europe, as well as the 9M729 missiles that are of concern to the FRG and other NATO countries at the Russian Armed Forces’ facilities in the Kaliningrad Region.
Thus, we are talking about practical measures that would directly contribute to relieving the concerns of both Russia and NATO countries, including Germany. Given that we provided additional details about Russia’s proposals in this area, it was at the least strange to hear Berlin say that “there is nothing new” in this, all the more so with references to Jens Stoltenberg, who, it appears, is an indisputable authority on missile weapons for his German colleagues.
For starters, we urge you to at least carefully study and analyse the Russian initiative. We can describe our proposals in more detail. We remain open to constructive efforts to minimise the fallout of the INF Treaty termination based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and balanced consideration for the parties’ interests. We are counting on a manifestation of responsibility on the part of the NATO countries and, in particular, the FRG.