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INF Treaty collapse may trigger arms race in several regions, Moscow warns

Moscow is forced to get ready for the possible deployment of US intermediate-range missiles, the Russian Foreign Ministry said

MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’s collapse may spark a multilateral arms race simultaneously in several regions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday on occasion of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the March 20 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

"If the United States maintains its current position on the INF Treaty, then on August 2 it will cease to exit. It’s obvious that the treaty’s collapse will have very negative repercussions for international security and stability. A multilateral arms race may start simultaneously in several regions and the system of control over weapons will be subject to further erosion," the ministry said.

"This may result in serious threats for a stable regime of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the prospects of further nuclear disarmament," the statement said.

Moscow is forced to get ready for the possible deployment of US intermediate-range missiles, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "The United States is actively developing new intermediate-range missiles so we have to get ready for their possible deployment," the statement reads. "At the same time, we strongly reject attempts to distort the objective logic of maintaining military and strategic balance and describe our retaliatory steps as Russia’s missile threat," the ministry added.

Washington has rejected all Russian initiatives aimed at transparent measures on settling reciprocal claims of the sides in the context of the INF Treaty’s implementation and refused to hold dialogue, demanding Russia’s unilateral concessions, the ministry highlighted. "We cannot destroy our 9M729 missile system, which was declared by Washington as non-compliant with the treaty without any grounds," it said.

"We seek to prevent new missile crises in Europe and other regions. That’s why we have announced a unilateral moratorium on deploying advanced intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in certain regions, including Europe, until similar US systems emerge there. We expect that a responsible approach to ensuring European security will prevail in Washington and other NATO’s capitals," the ministry emphasized.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (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 had accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the next day that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4.