MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. The statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Washington was suspending its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and would withdraw from it in six months was no sensation. He only conveyed a decision that had been made a long time ago, Head of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said on Friday.
"Unfortunately, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement didn't stir up any sensation. The US confirmed its intention to put the final nail into the coffin of another important arms control pillar," Kosachev told reporters. "We can only say that Pompeo voiced that decision, which had been made a long time ago, before putting forward an ultimatum to Russia, so no action whatsoever by Moscow could have influenced that."
He recalled that Washington’s ultimatum to Russia demanding a return to compliance with the obligations under the treaty within 60 days was expiring on Saturday. The US failed to furnish any evidence of Russia’s failure to comply with the deal. Kosachev noted that the response by Washington’s NATO partners and the alliance’s top officials had shown that "they need no serious arguments to confirm their loyalty."
"The mere fact that the US initially chose the language of ultimatums (knowing perfectly well that Russia would not tolerate such an approach in any dialogue with it, especially in the security sphere) confirms that no one was actually going to come to terms," he emphasized.
He also pointed to the game plan that Western countries employ of blaming others on key issues to justify themselves. "If you make statements on acts of aggression committed by someone, be it chemical attacks, violations of human rights or treaties by someone, it is assumed that you yourself are above suspicion, like Caesar’s wife," the legislator pointed out.
Attempts to salvage INF
Kosachev recalled that Russia had initially proposed a solution to the problem that would lead to preserving the INF accord. At the NATO-Russia Council meeting on October 31, 2018, Moscow initiated an exchange of views on the critical situation around the arms control deal.
"Even against the backdrop of the brazen US ultimatum, we, for the first time, publicly displayed a new cruise missile to a foreign audience so as to refute the US allegations that it violates the INF Treaty. However, that did not help either. You will not be heard, if no one wants to hear you," he stressed.
"Congratulations to the whole world. Today, the US took another step towards dismantling it," the Russian senator said.
How the landmark INF deal came into being
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, entered into force on June 1, 1988. 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).
US President Donald Trump said last October that his country would quit the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly in breach of that agreement. In early December, the US secretary of state said that Washington would stop honoring its commitments under the treaty, if Russia failed to return to compliance with it within 60 days (until February 2). Russian President Vladimir Putin warned shortly afterwards that Russia would have to respond if the US withdrew from the deal.