Russia Regrets Washington’s Expected Exit From Arms Treaty

Channels Television  
Updated February 1, 2019
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photo: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

Russia on Friday said it regretted Washington’s expected exit from a key arms control treaty and expected to receive formal notice from the United States shortly.

Russia and the US have over the past months held discussions to rescue the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) but say efforts have led nowhere.

“We all regret that in the coming days this decision will most likely be implemented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

“A decision to move to break the treaty was made in Washington a long time ago.” 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to make an announcement on the fate of the treaty at 1300 GMT Friday.

Moscow expects to receive “some sort of notice” from Washington about its withdrawal on Saturday, Peskov said.

The United States has warned that it will begin a six-month withdrawal process from the treaty on Saturday unless Russia destroys its 9M729 ground-based missile system, which it says breaches the agreement.

Russia’s top negotiator on the treaty, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, in an interview broadcast Friday insisted Moscow was in compliance.

“We believe that the treaty is needed. It serves the interests of our security and European security,” Ryabkov said. 

“It would be extremely irresponsible to undermine it with unilateral steps.”

Ryabkov suggested that Washington was planning to unleash a new arms race that Russia would be unable to win.

“They are probably beginning a race to exhaust us economically,” he said.

On Thursday, Russian and US officials met to address the issue on the sidelines of a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Beijing but made no progress.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said military commanders will begin preparing for “a world without an INF treaty” but insisted the alliance was still committed to arms reduction.

Tensions have raged for months over the fate of the INF agreement signed in 1987 by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Washington says Russia has violated the treaty that bans ground-launched missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,400 miles).

Last week the Russian military displayed the nuclear-capable 9M729 missile system to the media and foreign military officials in an attempt to prove it does not violate the treaty.

Russia says the missile’s maximum range is 480 kilometres (300 miles), within the allowed range.

Washington however said a static display of the cruise missile does not prove this.