The INF Treaty ended a year ago when the US walked away from it, unilaterally. We still believe Washington made a grave mistake. Although the treaty was less than ideal in today’s security environment, it definitely promoted predictability and restraint in the missile and nuclear weapons area.
Russia firmly believes that the INF Treaty should have been preserved. It was possible and necessary to duly mitigate the crisis around it. The sides should have promptly started settling the accumulated differences in its implementation. However, this would have taken political will on both sides. Regrettably, the US did not have this and began to see the treaty as an obstacle on the road to victory in the US-proclaimed “Great Power Rivalry.”
It is regrettable how the Americans prepared to discard an agreement they no longer wanted. To justify its destructive actions, the US orchestrated a propaganda campaign based on completely groundless accusations against Moscow. Instead of a Russia-suggested practical and professional analysis of reciprocal grievances, the Americans set forth patently unacceptable ultimatums. The US instantly rejected Russia’s realistic solutions on settling existing concerns by taking measures on reciprocal transparency. Having blocked the potential paths to resolve the problems, the US deliberately engineered the end of the treaty.
Now, there are no limitations on short- and intermediate- range missiles, whereas the threats for universal security and stability have increased manifold. After abandoning the treaty Washington immediately embarked on completing the development of missiles previously banned under the treaty. The US conducted full-scale tests of these missiles, which fully confirmed that Russia’s long-standing grievances with Washington regarding the treaty were fully justified. The US publicly announced its intention to deploy advanced missiles as soon as possible, primarily in the Asia-Pacific Region. Deployment in Europe has not been ruled out, either.
Obviously, the deployment of US ground-based short- and intermediate- range missiles in various parts of the world will seriously undermine regional and global security and provoke a new and dangerous round in the arms race. Russia cannot ignore the potential risk of additional missiles adjacent to its territory, which would be of a strategic nature for us. This would require an immediate response regardless of whether these are nuclear or conventional missiles.
After the INF Treaty, a number of specific steps were made to ensure predictability in the missile area and the preservation of a “window of opportunity” for dialogue-based solutions. President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced a moratorium on the deployment of these missiles on the ground as long as US weapons of similar classes were not deployed. The US and other NATO countries were directly urged to announce a reciprocal moratorium. Moscow announced its willingness at the highest level to hold a discussion on the parameters and potential verification measures as regards mutual commitments.
We strongly believe that the only viable step now is a joint search for settling the existing situation through political and diplomatic means. Russia remains open to equitable and constructive approaches to restoring trust and enhancing international security and strategic stability. We hope the US will also display an interest in this responsible approach.