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Russia to not lose arms race as its response to challenges is effective — senior diplomat

The INF Treaty’s collapse won’t weaken Russia’s security, senior lawmaker said
The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Roman Kanashchuk/TASS
The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry
© Roman Kanashchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. Russia will never lose the arms race, because it has demonstrated its ability to generate economically effective responses to challenges, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RT television channel.

"Russia will never lose the arms race. We have already shown our ability to find cost-effective answers to any challenges we face. And I’m sure this will happen once again after the United States’ pullout from the INF Treaty."

"I would like to point out that Russia has demonstrated extreme responsibility in its approach to European and global security by declaring a unilateral moratorium on the deployment [of intermediate and shorter range missiles], should it ever create such weapons. The United States has adhered to the same policy for the time being," Ryabkov said.

In the follow-up to the termination of the INF Treaty, Chairman of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky wrote in an article for Rossiyskaya Gazeta that the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at the United States’ initiative won’t weaken Russian’s security because the country has cutting-edge weapons systems.

According to Slutsky, "the termination of the INF Treaty won’t radically weaken Russia’s security" because the country "has ensured credible nuclear deterrence for years to come." "Russia’s cutting-edge weapons, including hypersonic ones, guarantee the country’s ability to destroy a potential enemy regardless of the number of US nuclear missiles and the features of missile defense systems," he pointed out.

The senior Russian lawmaker believes that Russia is not going to face the risk of a new arms race. At the same time, in his words, if Washington starts deploying land-based intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region, it may lead to an arms race between the US and China.

Slutsky went on to say that the termination of the INF Treaty should be treated "as an opportunity to start serious work to strengthen strategic stability in a new military and strategic situation." In his view, while working to achieve that goal, there is a need to take other nuclear powers into account, including China, the United Kingdom and France, as well as "the gradual demise of nuclear reduction agreements."

Potential conflict scenario

"That said, we need to continue efforts to make agreements with the US on non-deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles to Europe, particularly to Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries. Otherwise, the risk of a global nuclear conflict will grow," Slutsky noted.

He emphasized that "it is high time that Washington abandoned the illusion that it will be possible to limit an armed conflict to the European theater of war." "If Russia is attacked from a European NATO member, a retaliatory strike will target not only Europe but the decision-making center as well, that is, the US," Slutsky said.

The parliamentarian pointed out that the INF Treaty’s collapse "is a huge blow to strategic stability." He noted that the flying time of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles from Poland and the Baltic countries to Russia was about four minutes and under the circumstances, Moscow would have to develop a preemptive strike doctrine.

Slutsky also called for extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which "is currently the only mechanism regulating the field of nuclear weapons and ensuring transparency and predictability."

He also said that "there is a need to resist attempts to extend New START in return for a deal on tactical nuclear weapons, as it will only lead to Russia’s unilateral disarmament and create a significant imbalance to NATO’s advantage," the Russian lawmaker stressed.


New START, which came into force in 2011, limits Russia and the US to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

The Treaty is set to remain in effect for ten years (until 2021) unless a new document is signed to replace it. The document can also be extended for no more than five years (that is, until 2026) by mutual agreement of the parties.

INF: from inception to suspension

The INF Treaty, inked by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington on many occasions had accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, 2019, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting February 2. Washington claimed its determination to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russia returns to "real and verifiable" compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4. On July 3, the head of state signed the decree into law after it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

On August 2, the Russian Foreign Ministry officially confirmed that the INF had been terminated at the initiative of the United States.