Excerpts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Moscow. Kremlin. Putin TV programme Moscow, October 25, 2018
During a meeting with the National Security Advisor to the US President, President Vladimir Putin said, when the discussion turned to arms control, that this fairly bad cycle started with the US leaving the ABM Treaty, which forced us to start manufacturing weapons to ensure parity and this precluded the deployment of the US global missile defence system to jeopardise our security and the very existence of our strategic nuclear deterrent forces. Withdrawal from the INF Treaty has not yet been officially announced, but the intention was expressed. We could see from the talks in Moscow, including during President Putin’s meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton, that this decision has been made and will be formalised either very soon, or 30-45 days from now. Then, the six-month countdown will begin, which is stipulated by the INF Treaty, and after the six months following the official submission of the termination document, the treaty ceases to be valid for the initiating party and the other party. We discussed this openly and pragmatically, without emotions. Indeed, this is a negative development, and the President said as much several times yesterday in other speeches. At the news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the President said that it would be bad if the current sentiment in the US administration affects, first, withdrawal from the INF Treaty, and second, makes the parties to the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, wonder whether they should renew it or not. Should this scenario materialise, there will be no legal framework for curbing an arms race. When he talks about the arms race, President Putin always emphasises that we will be forced to respond to adverse changes in the strategic situation. However, we will never do so using the costly methods the Soviet Union did, which went to the extreme, severely undermining its economic and financial resources.