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Diplomat comments on talks with US official on INF Treaty

According to the Russian diplomat, the sides have made no progress
Sergey Ryabkov/TASS Sergei Fadeichev/TASS
Sergey Ryabkov/TASS
© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

BEIJING, January 31. /TASS/. No progress on the issue of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was made at the meeting with US Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, there is no progress. The US position remains rather tough and ultimatum-like," Ryabkov said. "We told the US side that it is impossible to hold dialogue in the conditions of attempted blackmailing of Russia," he added.

The meeting in Beijing between Ryabkov and Thompson lasted less than an hour.

US not ready for dialogue

According to Ryabkov, Washington is not ready to hold dialogue with Moscow. "The US side is now trying to criticize us that this had been arranged in a wrong way [a briefing of the Foreign and Defense Ministry on 9M729 missile] but it contradicts itself and does not confirm that it is ready to further discuss with us any transparency measures," Ryabkov said.

"Certainly, there has been no reaction to our demands on the US universal launchers as part of the Aegis Ashore systems, which have been already deployed to Romania and will soon emerge in Poland. There is no progress on two other our concerns related to the use by the US of target-missiles, which by their characteristics are nearly identical to intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and there has been no progress on drones either," he said.

The senior diplomat stressed that the US stance signals that its 60-day ultimatum on the INF Treaty is only aimed to cover up the decision to exit the treaty. Washington is fully responsible for the situation, he emphasized. "They have taken an absolutely destructive and a very tough stance, and they imposed themselves a 60-day deadline for us to meet their ultimatum," Ryabkov noted.

Russia to continue its efforts

According to the diplomat, the lack of progress in dialogue with the US arouses deep Russia’s concerns, especially over European security. "Now, as we understand, the next stage, the next phase is beginning, namely the phase of the US suspension of its commitments under the INF Treaty. This will apparently happen this weekend."

"But we will continue the work, we are not giving up. We are ready to look for solutions, but now it will be much more difficult to do this," he noted.

US intention to leave INF Treaty

The United States claims that the 9M729 missile has a range capability that exceeds the 500 km limit stipulated by the INF Treaty and demands that Russia eliminate all these missiles, threatening to withdraw from the treaty. Russia has numerously rejected these claims, saying that the new missile does not violate the INF Treaty with its range capability.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based shorter-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).

On January 15, Russia and the US held inter-agency consultations on the INF Treaty in Geneva. Washington again accused Moscow of breaching the arms control agreement. The US threatens to leave the treaty on February 2 unless Russia destroys its 9M729 missile, which allegedly violates the agreement. Russia told colleagues that during the Zapad-2017 drills on September 18, 2017 this missile was test-launched at the Kapustin Yar proving ground at its maximum range and it covered less than 480 km.