MOSCOW, October 28. /TASS/. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis most likely have had a say in Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on the Rossiya 1 television channel on Sunday.
"They says [US National Security Adviser] John Bolton was the one who played a pivotal role trying to persuade US President Donald Trump to announce the withdrawal from that treaty. I don’t know about their ins and outs in Washington but I don’t think Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Pentagon chief James Mattis had no say in the discussion. It is obvious," he said.
The Russian top diplomat noted that the topic of the United States’ withdrawal from the INF Treaty had been discussed in a calm atmosphere at a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton. "The fact that the decision has been taken and is being implemented is objective reality for us. I would like to stress it once again that this situation was discussed at the meeting in the Kremlin without any emotions, without going into detail who had started the whole thing. They are wise enough to see that each of us has an own position," Lavrov said.
US’ questions about Russia’s implementing INF Treaty came days before its withdrawal
A checklist on the implementations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was referred to the Russian side by the United States several days before announcing its decision to withdraw from that treaty, minister said.
"Just a week ago and several days before the announcement was made about the plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty, the Americans had handed over to the Russian foreign ministry, via their embassy in Moscow, a detailed list of questions they had doubts on," Lavrov said. "They finally did it - in response to our numerous requests to say what worries them and why they think we violate the treaty."
According to the Russian top diplomat, the list was referred to the Russian defense ministry and other agencies that were supposed to analyze the United States’ claims and give detailed answers. "These matters are outside my professional competences, so I can only guess but as a matter of fact it turned out that they presented a very detailed checklist which we were supposed to react to some way but several days after they said they were withdrawing, regardless of their questionnaire," he said. "It in no way can promote a sustainable dialogue and predictability".
About US's decision
US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia was violating the terms of the agreement. Lavrov earlier described this decision as a dangerous step fraught with a new arms race. Washington’s decision came under criticism from Berlin and Beijing.
Earlier in the week, the Russian side officially circulated within the UN secretariat a draft resolution in support to the INF Treaty. The text was also referred to the chairperson of the UN First Committee. On Friday, the Committee refused by a majority vote to consider the document.
The INF, or The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. In 1992, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the treaty was multilateralized with the former Soviet republics - Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine - as successors. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).
The US accused Russia of violating the treaty for the first time in July 2014. Since then, Washington has been repeating its claims on many occasions, while Moscow has been rejecting them and advancing counter-claims concerning the implementation of the treaty by the US side.