In connection with the completion of the first MSP to the TPNW (Vienna, June 21-23), we believe it is necessary to note the following.
While sharing the commitment to the noble task of building a world free of nuclear weapons, we remain committed to the approach that the development of the TPNW was premature, misguided, and, in effect, counterproductive. This treaty in no way helps to reduce the mounting nuclear risks. Neither does it bring mankind even a step closer to the goal it states. The TPNW’s approach can only lead to greater disputes between nuclear and non-nuclear states. It does not take into account the military-political and strategic situation and is at odds with the principle that nuclear disarmament should be carried out in such a manner as to achieve a “higher security level for all.” We see no realistic ways for implementing any practical nuclear arms reduction measures based on the TPNW.
Russia, like the rest of countries possessing a military nuclear potential, did not participate in the MSP to the TPNW and has no intention of doing so in the future. Nor are we planning to work with auxiliary entities created as part of the TPNW participants’ cooperative effort to implement the treaty.
As for the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Plan of Action approved following the MSP, these documents, as we see it, do not reflect the objective reality and hold no prospect of being implemented in full.
In this context, we note that the statement to the effect that the TPNW’s coming into force will unequivocally and comprehensively ban nuclear weapons under international law is not consistent with reality. As before, Russia proceeds from the premise that this Treaty imposes requirements solely for its states parties and is not binding in any way on our country or other states, which will not sign and ratify it. Given consistent and insistent objectives advanced by a number of states, this agreement also fails to promote the development of customary international law.
Accordingly, Russia does not regard itself as bound by the decisions approved at the first MSP, nor those that will be adopted at the subsequent conferences on the TPNW.
In connection with the wish expressed in the MSP’s final documents to make an effort to universalise the TPNW on a permanent basis, we want to stress the following: Russia is not planning to join the Treaty and intends to proceed from the understanding that the Treaty does not establish any universal standards – neither now, nor in the future.
The TPNW participants’ commitment to achieving “nuclear zero” through further stigmatising and delegitimising nuclear weapons is also far removed from a pragmatic outlook on the situation. Quite clearly, an attempt by a part of the international community to “outlaw” nuclear weapons cannot achieve real progress towards disarmament.
We also note that the TPNW supporters are promoting the idea of the Treaty’s alleged “compatibility” with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) and regard the former as an “effective measure” towards implementing the obligations under Article VI of the NNPT. In this context, they condemn actions, which they say create a risk of undermining the NNPT as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. But, from our perspective, the problem is that it is the TPNW that has been drafted without regard for the strategic realities and security interests of nuclear countries and, as such, is able to cause irreparable damage to the NNPT. An aggressive promotion of TPNW increases disunity between states and shatters the NNPT regime by undermining its prestige. In fact, the international legal foundation of disarmament is being split into different and non-matching elements.
We believe that the time-tested NNPT is a self-sufficient document and does not need any amendments or specifications aside from the steps agreed as part of its review process. For Russia, NNPT unreservedly retains its role of a fundamental legal landmark in the said area.
It follows from the MSP documents that in their effort to implement the TPNW the states parties to the Treaty continue to regard abstract humanitarian attitudes as the main motive factor in nuclear disarmament. For our part, we believe that the humanitarian approach, for all its importance, cannot be given top priority without any counterbalances, where the case in point is war and peace, national security, and even survival of states. It must not overshadow the priority of solving urgent international security and stability problems, which in turn would help to form the prerequisites for further nuclear disarmament. In the current turbulent environment, some particularly painstaking and methodical collective efforts are needed to create a favourable climate of this kind.
One cannot but feel puzzled by statements about “mutual threats to use nuclear weapons,” which were made in the run-up to the MSP in the context of the Ukrainian conflict, and by individual allegations concerning “Russia’s nuclear blackmail” voiced from the meeting’s rostrum. To reiterate: Russia has never made any “nuclear threats.” The Russian approaches are based exclusively on the logic of containment, including in the current situation, where the NATO member countries, which have provoked the aggravation of the Ukrainian crisis, unleashed a hybrid war against Russia, and proclaimed themselves a “nuclear alliance,” are balancing precariously on the brink of a direct armed conflict with our country. Like it or not, the logic of containment, as long as nuclear weapons are in existence, remains an effective way of preventing a nuclear clash and large-scale wars. Distorting, for propaganda purposes, the essence of Russian policy in this sphere, a policy based on the postulate about the inadmissibility of a nuclear war, is absolutely unacceptable.
Generally, while disagreeing with the unrealistic idea that there is a “shortcut” to a nuclear-free world, we nevertheless remain open to a mutually respectful and constructive dialogue with all parties concerned and to pragmatic work in related international formats to create prerequisites for further steps in this direction in the spirit of good will. But any speculative timetables for achieving the end result are unlikely to be of help here. Further headway should be made in a comprehensive manner, in strict conformity with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and without picking up its separate elements from the integral context of universal and complete disarmament. Progress is possible solely on the basis of a tested and stage-by-stage approach, providing for the strengthening of international stability and security for all states, without exception.