MOSCOW, October 26. /TASS/. Moscow is striving for a detente in Europe, stating its readiness not to deploy 9M729 missiles on the continent, if the United States takes reciprocal steps, Head of the Defense and Security Committee in the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia’s parliament) Viktor Bondarev told TASS on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier on Monday that Moscow was ready not to deploy 9M729 missiles, which Washington blamed for violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, on condition that NATO takes reciprocal steps.
"The statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s readiness not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia in exchange for NATO’s non-deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles in Europe is evidence that we are striving for a detente," the senator said.
"NATO’s infrastructure in Europe is expanding. This cannot but concern not only Russia but all the countries on the continent. However, the Americans that make decisions in the North Atlantic alliance actually unilaterally continue escalating tension, disregarding the opinion of both Russia and its partners in the bloc," Bondarev said.
In this context, "some measures have to be taken to stop NATO’s expansion and the build-up of its armament in the eastern hemisphere and improve the common European environment," he added.
The Russian president’s new proposal is very reasonable, the senator said. The United States should support it, if Washington is interested in improving bilateral relations and de-escalating tension in Europe, Bondarev pointed out.
Russia’s defense capability is ensured by its powerful air and anti-ballistic missile defense, "which even the most advanced modifications of the US strike missiles cannot breach," and, therefore, Moscow’s move not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia will not affect Russia’s security, the senator stressed.
INF Treaty and Russian president’s proposals
The INF Treaty banning Moscow and Washington from possessing land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 km to 5,500 km was signed in 1987 and ceased to exist in August 2019. Already in September this year, it was reported that Putin had put forward a proposal to the leaders of some countries, including NATO member states, to introduce a moratorium on deploying such missiles in Europe and other regions but the United States actually rejected this initiative.
On October 26, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to the moratorium on deploying land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles as long as "US-made missiles of similar classes do not appear in the corresponding regions."
Putin also stressed the importance of Russia’s call on NATO countries to announce a reciprocal moratorium and stated Moscow’s readiness "for further steps to minimize the negative consequences of dismantling the INF Treaty, based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and a balance of the parties’ interests."