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Russia proposes reciprocal inspections of Mk 41 launchers and 9M729 missiles — diplomat

The initiative will allow the parties to exit the deadlock, according to the deputy foreign minister

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. Moscow invites NATO countries to hold reciprocal inspections of US Mk 41 land-based launchers and Russian 9M729 cruise missiles, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

The statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the situation with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty made public on October 26 stipulates a whole number of major components, the high-ranking diplomat said.

"The first component is the proposal to check the absence of strike weapons from Mk 41 launchers that the United States has in Europe, coupled with our readiness to show that there are no 9M729 missiles in the Kaliningrad Region," the deputy foreign minister said, responding to a question from TASS.

"Although we do not recognize the violations the United States claims we have committed by creating such a missile, we, nonetheless, propose holding reciprocal inspections in the interests of strengthening European security," Ryabkov said.

Therefore, the parties concerned will be able to exit the deadlock "that has emerged following NATO’s refusal to recognize the obvious fact" that the 9M729 missiles have never violated the INF Treaty, the Russian senior diplomat pointed out.

"We propose holding reciprocal inspections so that they can come to the Kaliningrad Region and get convinced that there are no such missiles there and so that we can get convinced that attack Tomahawks, i.e. surface-to-surface missiles are absent from their Mk 41 universal launchers," the deputy foreign minister stressed.

"The second component is the proposal to refrain from deploying these 9M729 missiles in European Russia on the condition that the West, NATO take no steps for the emergence of the respective US-made weapons in Europe. I believe this is a very serious move," Ryabkov said.

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 was terminated in August 2019. In September 2019, it was announced that Putin had put forward a proposal to the leaders of a number of 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 are absent from the respective regions."

Putin also stressed the importance of Russia’s call on NATO countries for declaring a reciprocal moratorium and stated Moscow’s readiness "for further steps to minimize the negative consequences of the INF Treaty’s collapse, based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and respect for the balance of the parties’ interests."