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Russia to continue efforts to salvage INF accord, vows Lavrov

The Russian top diplomat says the INF talks confirm the US policy of undermining strategic stability

MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to further work to rescue the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated at his annual conference devoted to the results of 2018.

"We are still ready to work on saving the INF Treaty. I hope those European countries, which are interested in this, maybe more than anyone else, will also make efforts not to fall behind the US position and not to approve obediently statements in NATO, laying all the blame on Russia and ignoring the facts, which we are providing and are ready to provide further, but will still try to exert influence on Washington so that it takes a more responsible position in regard to all members of the international community, first of all Europeans," Lavrov said.

On Tuesday, Russia and the United States held consultations in Geneva on the fate of the INF Treaty but failed to bring their positions closer. According to Russia, the US colleagues did not even try to do that and arrived for the talks with the already prepared program, making it clear that the withdrawal from the treaty was already predetermined.

Washington rejected the Russian side’s constructive proposals, which enabled the US at an expert level to see itself what the 9M729 missile, which they suspect of violating the parameters set by the treaty, really is, Lavrov said. "The US arrived with a prepared position, which was an ultimatum and a demand for us to destroy this missile under US supervision, as well as its launchers and all related equipment," he stated.

According to Lavrov, the Russian side’s questions why Washington does not want to familiarize itself with Moscow’s proposals and particular parameters of this missile were left unanswered. Russia’s proposal that in response to its steps on alleviating US concerns Washington should provide access to information related to the problems facing Russia regarding the US fulfillment of the treaty was rejected, he stressed.

"The logic of all US approaches, which were voiced yesterday, was only that: "You are violating the treaty, we are not violating it, therefore you, Russia, are obliged to do what we are demanding from you and we won’t have to do anything," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"Of course, this position won’t get you far. It’s clear that this is the demonstration of a course towards breaking all agreements on strategic stability. After the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the INF Treaty is another victim and in regard to the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) many countries have concerns that its dismantling is part of the US administration’s plans," he said.

The consultations in Geneva confirmed the United States’ policy of ruining strategic stability, he said.

"Washington’s unilateral actions aimed at ruining the most important international legal instruments of maintaining strategic stability were no reason for optimism. This was seen very clearly in the January 15 consultations between Russia and the United States on problems concerning the INF Treaty," he said. "All this exacerbates the shortage of mutual trust and militarization of foreign policy mentality."

The INF Treaty (signed on December 8, 1987 and made effective on June 1, 1988) outlawed ground-based deployed and non-deployed missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). In recent years the United States repeatedly accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty. Moscow strongly disagrees with these charges and puts forward its own counterclaims.

Washington argues that Russia’s ground-based missile 9M729 (NATO reporting name SSC-8) is a violation of the INF Treaty. Russia earlier informed its foreign counterparts that on September 18, 2017 that during the Zapad-2017 exercise it test-launched this missile at the Kapustin Yar proving ground. The missile covered its maximum range of less than 480 kilometers.