BEIJING, October 21. /TASS/. Containment of Russia and China is the real objective behind the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Monday.
"We are convinced that the real reason behind the US unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is to contain the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation," he told a plenary session of the Xiangshan Forum on security.
According to the minister, "the treaty no longer met the US interests amid growing military and economic power of China, Russia’s restoring defense potential and expansion of military and military-technical cooperation between the two countries.".
Shoigu noted that the US "was preparing to destroy" the INF Treaty "well in advance" by accusing Russia of violating it. "They were creating unmanned strike aerial vehicles, used intermediate-range ballistic missiles as targets and deployed Mark 41 Vertical Launching System initially developed to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. This is further confirmed by the fact that 16 days after the treaty was terminated a land-based cruise missile test was conducted with this missile striking a target further than 500 km away according to US statements," the minister recalled.
He underlined that "a multi-level security system that used to ensure stability and balance of power for many years is now being destroyed" in the arms control sphere. "This is the US refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty," Shoigu said.
The likelihood of the United States deploying its missiles previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Europe and Asia Pacific is high, Shoigu said.
"There are grounds to believe that US strike capabilities previously banned under the INF Treaty are highly likely to be deployed in Asia Pacific and Europe to foment tensions. Such a decision will inevitably lead to an arms race, increased conflict potential and will instigate incident possibility," he told a plenary session of the Xiangshan Forum on security.
Moreover, Shoigu underlined that "the countries that agree to host short-and intermediate-range missiles on its territories will essentially become hostages to US policies," "Russia opposes such a scenario," he said.
"We are ready for dialogue to preserve regional stability, developing confidence-building measures and cooperating will all interested parties," the Russian minister emphasized.
The INF Treaty was terminated on August 2 at the US initiative. The US said that its actions were provoked by Russia’s refusal to comply with the American ultimatum-like demand to eliminate the new 9M729 cruise missiles, which Washington and its NATO allies believe to violate the INF Treaty. Moscow has been rejecting these accusations, saying that the technical parameters of the 9M729 missiles are within the parameters allowed by the treaty and laying counterclaims to Washington.
In September, reports emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent proposals to introduce a moratorium on deploying short-and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and other regions to a number of leaders, including NATO members.