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Lavrov predicts Cold War won’t re-ignite following suspension of INF

February 04, 11:10 UTC+3

The Russian top diplomat comments on the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty

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© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

BISHKEK, February 4. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov does not expect a new Cold War to follow the suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), as he himself said at Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University on Monday.

"I don’t think that we should talk about a new Cold War. A new era has begun, an era when the United States decides to move towards destroying the entire arms control system, which is regrettable," the Russian top diplomat noted. "US experts are already saying that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in 2021 will come next," he added.

Lavrov pointed out that Russia did not seek to launch a new arms race but would respond to US actions following its withdrawal from the INF Treaty. "We don’t seek to launch a new arms race, the president has made it quite clear. We will definitely give military and technical responses to the threats that are emerging following the US pullout from the INF Treaty and its plans to create low-yield nuclear weapons, which - according to all experts in the West, Russia and other countries - will dramatically lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict," he said, adding that "these measures will be taken using funds already allocated to the Russian Defense Ministry."

The Russian foreign minister went on to say that "there is no lack of initiatives covering issues that concern weapons, including the production of new types of weapons, and strategic stability in general." "Russia put forward many such initiatives in recent years, suggested discussing these issues with NATO. The last time such initiatives were presented in Helsinki in July last year, when a meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump took place," he noted.

"We suggested adopting a step-by-step approach towards the launch of new talks on arms reduction, starting with a joint Russian-US declaration on the inadmissibility of a nuclear war. All of our initiatives were either rejected or left unanswered," Lavrov stressed.

This is why, in his words, the Russian president said on Saturday that "all these initiatives remain on the table but we will not run after our western partners to remind them about it." "When they are ready to realize their responsibility for resolving issues stemming from the United States’ policies, they will be welcome: the doors are open, so come to talk on an equal footing, taking each other’s interests into consideration, provided that those interests are legitimate and not imaginary," the Russian top diplomat said. "For instance, the US has pointed out one of its interests was to make sure it has no opponent in the world whose potential would be comparable to that of the United States. It is not a legitimate but an autocratic interest," he emphasized.

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington on many occasions accused Russia of violating the Treaty but Moscow strongly dismissed all accusations and expressed grievances concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF Treaty starting February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the Treaty in six months unless Russia returned to "real and verifiable" compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the Treaty. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show readiness for an equal and substantive dialogue.

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