MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, in Buenos Aires that was called off by the US leader was geared to outline ways of dialogue on the United States’ possible withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
"We expected this meeting between Putin and Trump, who could have discussed the process and outline ways to a potential dialogue on that topic. But, regrettably, as you know, the meeting never took place," he said.
The Kremlin spokesman expressed concern over possible impacts of the United States’ withdrawal from that treaty. In his words, "consequences can be very bad" from the point of view of both European and global security. "If the Americans ultimately withdraw from that treaty, there is a high risk, although now they deny it, that they will deploy these missiles in Europe. It means NATO’s expansion towards our borders. If missiles are deployed in Europe, Russia will be forces to take steps to ensure parity," Peskov said, adding that such "steps" would mean "targeting these missiles."
"That is European territories will be in crosshairs of our missiles. So, here we are back in the glorious 1970s," he said. "It is illogical. It is dangerous as instead of discussing development goals we will find ourselves back in a situation of armed confrontation. It is very bad and that is why we are trying to initiate negotiations with the Americans, sending these or those signal to see no reciprocity, due to various reasons."
It is impossible to create an alternative to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in the current political conditions, he said.
"There is room for improving the document. But is can be improved only on the basis of something concrete because in the current political situation it is next to impossible to produce such a complicated document if it is leveled to the ground," he said. "It is possible to use it as a basis but it is absolutely impossible to start from scratch."
"The best option is the US’ non-withdrawal from the treaty," the Kremlin spokesman stressed. "We can agree, so to say, with certain criticism of the US side that Russia and the United States are not the only countries to have such missiles. Moreover, there is a range of countries where these missiles constitute the core of their arsenals. Naturally, it turns out in such conditions that Russia and the United States are bound by liabilities under this treaty while others continue to develop their arsenals."
But Russia, in his words, categorically denies allegations that it violates the INF Treaty. More to it, the Kremlin insists that in is the United States "that directly or indirectly has not been restricted by this treaty for quite a time," developing heavy unmanned aerial vehicles, systems for anti-missiles in regions that can be used to launch small-and intermediate-range missiles.
"It is a difficult problem and there is no alternative to dialogue between the two countries’ experts and political will from their leaders. You know about our leader’s political will. And the US leader is yet to announce his," Peskov added.
The INF, or The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. In 1992, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the treaty was multilateralized with the former Soviet republics - Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine - as successors. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).
In the recent years, Washington has been accusing Russia of violating the treaty, while Moscow has been rejecting these allegations and advancing counter-claims concerning the implementation of the treaty by the US side.
US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia was violating the terms of the agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described this decision as a dangerous step. Washington’s decision came under criticism from Berlin and Beijing. However London expressed support to the US’ stance and NATO placed responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia which, it claims, may violate the treaty.