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Russian Defense Ministry does not rule out US might revise its stance on New START

Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin stressed that the United States had for a long time pushed ahead with a policy of building up its military potential

MOSCOW, December 27. /TASS/. The United States’ attitude to prolonging the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) may change by virtue of political reasons, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told the government-published daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview on Sunday.

"Russia invited the United States to prolong the New START and simultaneously get down to joint work to draft a new agreement that would take into account all factors influencing strategic stability. At the same time, as I have already said, the American side has different priorities, for which reason it has shown no interest in extending the treaty. In the light of the current political situation in the United States we do not rule out that the US stance on this issue may change," Fomin said. He recalled that the current treaty would stay effective until February 5, 2021.

Fomin stressed that the United States had for a long time pushed ahead with a policy of building up its military potential.

"On a variety of far-fetched pretexts, the American side has relinquished its obligations in the field of arms control that impede attempts at trying to achieve global supremacy. After quitting the ABM Treaty in 2002 the US terminated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty," he said.

In order to minimize the negative effects of the United States’ pullout from the INF Treaty Russia asked NATO countries to join its moratorium on the deployment of intermediate and shorter range missiles."

"A major instrument of implementing our proposals might be created by taking mutual verification measures regarding the weapon systems causing concerns on either side (Russia finds worrisome the universal launchers Mk-41 in Romania and Poland, and the United States, the 9M729 missiles), Fomin said.

"If our call fails to meet with support and US missiles begin to be deployed in Europe, we reserve the right to take proportionate retaliatory measures," he warned.

Fomin underscored Russia’s concern over the US decision to quit the Treaty on Open Skies.

"We hope that the treaty will nevertheless retain its positive potential. Future policies regarding the Open Skies treaty will be determined in accordance with the readiness of other signatories to guarantee they will refrain from passing to the American side the information gathered as a result of monitoring flights over Russia’s territory. We will keep a close watch on the situation involving the Open Skies Treaty and take decisions proceeding from the interests of national security," Fomin said.

INF Treaty dispute

The United States suspended compliance with the INF Treaty on February 2, 2019 due to Russia’s alleged violations. For the first time Washington accused Moscow of being in breach of the INF Treaty in July 2014. The US administration argued that Russia’s 9M729 missile violated the terms of the agreement signed between Moscow and Washington in 1987.

Moscow dismissed all of Washington’s charges and put forward a number of its own counterclaims over the United States’ non-compliance with the agreement, for instance, the US missile defense systems in Europe. The United States warned that under article 15 it would quit the treaty, unless Russia agreed to meet certain demands, including the elimination of the 9M729 missile in the first place. Moscow dismissed Washington’s demands as an unacceptable ultimatum.

However, as John Bolton, the then US presidential national security adviser said later, Washington dropped the INF Treaty mostly because China was not a party to it.

In September 2019, it was announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had addressed the leaders of some countries, including NATO members, with a proposal for imposing a freeze on the deployment of the intermediate and shorter range missiles in Europe and some other regions. The United States in fact eventually dismissed this initiative.