ROME, December 6. /TASS/. Russia will not be the first to deploy short- and intermediate-range missiles despite the lack of the West’s reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to impose a corresponding moratorium, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday at a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio.
According to Lavrov, Western countries, except France, have provided no feedback to the moratorium initiative. Nevertheless, in his words, Russian position will not be changed. "If any practical steps towards developing and deploying [such missiles] are taken, we will respond in a mirror-like manner, but we will never be the first," he stressed, adding that he hopes for a dialogue with France on missiles' non-deployment.
Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has said citing French President Emmanuel Macron’s letter to Putin that the French leader was ready to look at the initiative to declare a moratorium on deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
It was reported in late September that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent a proposal to the leaders of several countries, including NATO member states, to introduce a moratorium on deploying intermediate- and shorter-range missiles in Europe and in other regions. Such messages were also addressed to a range of non-NATO states, in particular, to China.
However both NATO and the United States claimed that they saw no point in such a moratorium since Russia had allegedly deployed intermediate-range missiles on its territory.
Lavrov stated in mid-November that NATO was reluctant to respond to Russia’s initiative.