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US tries to politically heat up new strategic weapons issue — diplomat

Moscow’s offer to renew dialogue on strategic stability with Washington still stands, the diplomat noted

MOSCOW, August 14. /TASS/. With its newly-adopted national defense spending law Washington is trying to heat up politically the issue of new strategic weapons, but Moscow does not believe that this decision is directly geared to their restriction, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Tuesday.

"In the law on defense spending limits signed by US President Donald Trump we have not seen an attempt to formulate the issue this way (to try to include Russia’s new attack systems in the strategic offensive weapons treaty - TASS). We do not believe that this law is an attempt to limit our new types of strategic weapons Russia’s president (Vladimir Putin) described on March 1," Ryabkov said.

"What we do see is the United States’ wish to heat up this theme politically, to make it an annoyance in bilateral relations. We cannot share this approach and we do not welcome it," he added.

US President Donald Trump on August 13 signed a $716-billion defense budget for the 2019 fiscal year (beginning on October 1). The signing ceremony took place at Fort Drum,. New York, the base of the 10th Mountain Division. The law instructs the Department of Defense to consider the possibility of deploying more missile defense components in Europe in response to alleged violations of the INF treaty by Russia. 

Strategic stability 

Moscow’s proposal to renew dialogue on strategic stability with Washington remains in force, Ryabkov also told TASS.

"Unfortunately, the American colleagues cannot confirm their readiness to renew dialogue on strategic stability, which we proposed to continue. That said, we repeatedly articulated the idea of the need for this dialogue. Our proposal remains in force," the senior diplomat noted.

"There are relevant platforms and venues to discuss this issue [the new types of strategic arms.] We are ready for this dialogue. Our position is legally measured and is void of any pitfalls or hidden agenda. We are ready to explain it to our American colleagues in a consistent and patient way, providing clarity and preventing any questions that may arise," the diplomat stressed.

He reiterated about other formats, in particular the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). "This is work directly within the Treaty. I hope that the corresponding dialogue will continue there as well, unless the US moves further toward the unilateral rejection of the established formats and mechanisms of cooperation that proved to be effective," the deputy foreign minister said.

The Russian-American negotiations on strategic stability and the prevention of problems in bilateral relations were chaired by Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon. Shortly after February reports about Shannon’s retirement, Ryabkov expressed hope that the format of cooperation between Moscow and Washington between deputy heads of foreign ministers will be preserved.

The creation of this communication channel became one of the results of then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow in April last year. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed in September that the sides intend to preserve the mechanism of these regular contacts.