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Russia still ready for talks with US on INF Treaty — top diplomat

December 07, 2018, 16:27 UTC+3 MILAN

The Russian foreign minister says Moscow has not received any documents from the United States proving alleged breach of the INF Treaty

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MILAN, December 7. /TASS/. Russia has not received any documents from the United States proving Moscow’s alleged breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Russian side is still ready for a professional talk on the document, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

Russia’s top diplomat made this statement at a press conference on the results of a session of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Council of Foreign Ministers.

"Now that the foreign ministers of the NATO countries supported the US position at their session in Brussels, there was information that they did this after the United States acquainted them with some irrefutable documents confirming that it [the INF Treaty] was violated," Lavrov said.

"If this is so, then we have not received any such documents from the Americans," the foreign minister said.

According to Lavrov, this is exactly what Russia has been requesting from the US for quite long.

"We are still ready for a serious and professional talk and not for a situation when they [the United States] time and again climb the rostrum and tell the entire international community certain things, which it would be more correct and polite for a start to clarify immediately with the other party to the treaty," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

"We want to remind once again that when the United States began several years ago to accuse us of violating the treaty, they did this without giving any proofs," Lavrov said.

"And we had to get literally with pincers at least some information from the United States that would allow us to understand what they talked about," Russia’s top diplomat pointed out.

"As a result, they named the specific 9M729 missile and started to assert that it had been tested on some days at some proving ground for its range capability banned by the treaty," Lavrov said.

"Our data speak to the contrary: the missile was tested for the range permitted by the document and in the conditions stipulated by the INF Treaty," the foreign minister said.

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty was signed in Washington on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles. By June 1991, the Soviet Union had eliminated 1,846 missiles, while the United States rolled back its arsenal to 846. That said, inspections ended in May 2001.

Back in July 2014, Washington accused Moscow for the first time of violating the INF Treaty. Since then, the US has repeated this claim more than once.

Russia strongly dismissed the accusations and struck back at the US with counterclaims, saying the United States also has been blatantly violating the treaty by deploying at its bases in Europe multi-purpose Mk-41 vertical launching systems, which can also be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. Besides, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin said in mid-August that Washington had made a decision earlier this year to finance a project to build mobile launching systems for land-based cruise missiles with the range of 500-5,500 km, which also fall under the treaty’s limits.

On December 4, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said after the meeting of NATO defense ministers that his country would stop honoring its commitments under the treaty, if Russia fails to return to compliance with that accord within 60 days. Russian President Vladimir Putin replied on December 5 that Washington has failed to present any evidence of Russia’s non-compliance. He added that although Moscow would like to have the treaty preserved, it would adequately respond if the US chooses to terminate it unilaterally.

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