MOSCOW, October 25. /TASS/. Moscow never avoided discussing Russia’s 9M729 missile, it was Washington that did it, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, addressing participants in the Ninth Dialogue in the Name of the Future event, hosted by the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.
"The Treaty [the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty] has become a thing of the past not because Russia refused to address the issue of the 9M729 missile but because the United States was reluctant to do it," he pointed out. "We repeatedly offered to take profound measures to ensure transparency in relation to this missile, we called on the Americans to agree on transparency settings before making any far-reaching decisions," Ryabkov added.
Current level of bilateral relations
The state of Russian-US relations is at the level comparable to the Cold War period, the deputy foreign minister stated.
"Unfortunately, I have to note with concern that the current state of Russian-US relations is not only dissatisfactory, but also in many aspects, it is at an extremely low level, comparable to the most difficult periods of our relatively recent past, which came to be known as the Cold War period," he said.
According to Ryabkov, toxic relations between Russia and the US are caused by the US government failing to recognize Russia’s autonomy. He noted that Russia "has begun to state priorities and protect its interests in a steady and persistent manner," which does not always benefit the US and its closest allies.
INF Treaty issue
The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applied to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.
The 9M729 cruise missile is an improved modification of the 9M728 missile, included in the Iskander-M ballistic missile system, which has a range of 480 kilometers. However, according to the United States, its actual range exceeds 500 kilometers, so Washington demanded Moscow dismantle the missile, otherwise threatening to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Moscow rejected the demand.
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. On August 2, Washington formally withdrew from the Treaty and the Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, officially confirmed that the Treaty had been terminated at the United States’ initiative.
On August 18, the US tested a new cruise missile.