Press Release on the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty
On February 2, the US Department of State issued a press statement officially notifying the Russian Federation that the United States had suspended its obligations under the 1987 Soviet-US Treaty on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) and had launched the procedure of withdrawing from it. At the same time, the Americans announced that they no longer consider themselves to be bound by the Treaty obligations, which means that they can openly design, produce and deploy the weapon systems prohibited under the Treaty.
According to the Russian Foreign Minister S.Lavrov’s statement, this move will certainly have dramatic and far-flung consequences for the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability, primarily in Europe. Responsibility for this will rest fully and squarely with the United States.
Russia has done its best to preserve the Treaty, tried many times to engage the Americans in a professional discussion and proposed practical initiatives that could help settle mutual complaints. However, all our attempts were disregarded or blocked by the United States, which has long opted for destroying the INF Treaty so as to remove any restrictions that hindered the build-up of its missile potential.
In light of the new threats created by Washington, the Russian side will have to take the necessary measures to ensure our national security. Russia reserves the right to reciprocate by launching the design, production and deployment of ground-launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on February 2 that Russia, aware of its role in preserving international peace and security, would not deploy intermediate- or shorter-range weapons in Europe or anywhere else whether US weapons of this kind are not deployed to the corresponding regions of the world. If Washington revises its destructive policy and resumes its obligations under the INF Treaty, the Russian side will be ready to conduct a meaningful dialogue on the Treaty or any other subjects of strategic stability based on mutual consideration and respect for one another’s interests, as well as the interests of the international community.
According to the Comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department on the NATO Council statement on the INF Treaty developments, the latter was released much earlier than received a formal notification from the United States about suspending its participation in the INF Treaty. Russia has initiated several briefings and other transparency measures going far beyond its obligations under the Treaty. The situation around the INF Treaty was discussed on our proposal at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) on October 31, 2018. And on January 25, 2019 the Russian side organised a special briefing at the RNC on the matter at the Deputy Foreign Minister level.
Unfortunately, NATO countries were not ready for meaningful dialogue on the Mk-41 launchers deployed in Romania, which will be extended to Poland next year in violation of the provisions of the INF. These launchers are integrated into the NATO missile defence system, so the alliance is also directly responsible for the undermining of the Treaty.
If the US’ European allies are really interested in maintaining effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, they should not blindly follow the course of American policy. Europe should take into account its fundamental security interests and prevent from being again turned into confrontation that will become inevitable if the United States begins to deploy this class of missiles.
Russia will further stick to this responsible approach.
The Embassy of the Russian Federation
In the Republic of Botswana