Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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09 january / 2019

Press Release on developments involving the INF Treaty

After US President Donald Trump’s public statements about Washington’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty unilaterally, politicians, diplomats, and other related experts, as well as the entire world community have been focused on this matter.

There is no doubt that back then, the Treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States signed in 1987on the elimination of their intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles was a major milestone in building a Euro-Atlantic security architecture in the new historical period. Specifically, following the implementation of the INF Treaty, an entire class, or more precisely, two classes of nuclear weapons were removed from the arsenals of the parties: intermediate-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles having ranges from 1,001 to 5,500 km, and shorter-range missiles, i.e. with ranges from 500 to 1,000 km.

December 4, 2018 US Secretary of State M. Pompeo said that if “Russia does not return to compliance with the INF Treaty” after two months, Washington will suspend the implementation of the Treaty and begin a six-month counting provided for in this agreement for termination. But that there is practically nothing to “suspend” in the implementation of the INF Treaty. The elimination of the missile weapons that fell within the scope of the Treaty was carried out many years ago. Thus, the Treaty at the present time can only be broken by the production and deployment of prohibited classes of missiles, which is completely excluded from the Russian side. Therefore, after the expiration of the two-month period declared by Washington, no legal consequences will come and the Treaty will remain in force for all its parties.

The groundless and unfounded accusations made against Russia by the United States and the presumptuous manner in which they were publicly voiced are absolutely unacceptable. They never once specified their suspicions regarding the range of the 9M729 missile and continued to refer exclusively to the maximum range of 500 to 5500 km under the Treaty. Russian Federation informed the United States that the 9M729 missile was launched at its maximum range at the Kapustin Yar testing ground on September 18, 2017 as part of the West-2017 exercises. It covered less than 480 km.

At the same time, the main problems and risks for the Treaty turned out to be connected with the long-term actions of the American side contrary to their commitments under the agreement.

First problem concerns the problematic issue of US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with strike potential. This heralded the creation of a US weapons system, unequivocally covered by the INF Treaty. Despite our longtime appeals, the United States stubbornly refuses to address this matter within the framework of the Treaty, virtually ignoring the Russian concern.

Second problem that remains unresolved has to do with the large-scale programmes by the Pentagon to use the so-called target missiles during what is presented as missile defence tests. Russia has every reason to suspect that under the guise of these programmes the US is working on maintaining and developing technological, industrial and to some extent combat capabilities of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles that are banned by the INF Treaty.

Next Russian complaint about US actions was also formulated many years ago. Our country is referring to the deployment of the ?k-41 universal vertical launcher as part of the Aegis Ashore missile systems in Europe, allegedly for purely anti-missile purposes. However, contrary to the INF Treaty, the Mk-41 system can be used to launch ground-based Tomahawk intermediate-range cruise missiles and other strike weapons. Russia sees this as a direct and flagrant violation of the INF Treaty.

The world is increasingly aware of the risks and threats this rash decisions could entail not only for regional but also for global international security and stability as a whole. Russia subscribes to the view that a comprehensive, equitable and result-oriented dialogue is long overdue, given the backlog of problems in this sphere. Our proposals on this score were conveyed back at the Russian-US summit in Helsinki in July of last year. Moreover, Russia introduced draft resolution “Preservation of and compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty” for the consideration in the UN General Assembly in December of last year. But, as Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Lavrov said , “entire European Union voted against our proposal, so that the INF Treaty would in fact cease to exist, and that US missiles, prohibited in accordance with the Treaty, would be deployed and this would threaten Europe once again”.

The Russian Federation would still like to hope that Washington and its European allies will after all display the political will and respond to Russian initiative in a constructive way.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation
in the Republic of Botswana