In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union came to an agreement to eliminate their stocks of intermediate-range and shorter-range (or “medium-range”) land-based missiles (which could carry nuclear warheads). In February 2019, the United States announced it was suspending compliance with it. This has opened up the possibility of return to the Cold War years with Europe living under the imminent threat of nuclear oblivion that almost came to pass on more than one occasion. We publish here the latest statement by Russian president, Vladimir Putin calling for de-escalation taken from the Russian Presidency website, here.
The Russian Federation continues to believe that the INF Treaty was an important part of the architecture to ensure international security and strategic stability. The Treaty was essential to maintaining predictability and restraint in the missile sphere in Europe.
We consider the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, as a result of which it was terminated, a serious mistake, which increases the risks of unleashing a missile arms race, stepping up confrontational potential and sliding into uncontrollable escalation. Given the unrelenting tension between Russia and NATO, new threats to European security are becoming evident.
Under these circumstances, active efforts are required to reduce the deficit of trust and to strengthen regional and global stability, as well as to reduce the risks arising from misunderstandings and disagreements in the sphere of missile weapons.
In this context, we reiterate our adherence to the moratorium on the deployment of ground-based INF missiles earlier declared by the Russian Federation until US-made missiles of similar classes are deployed in the corresponding regions.
We also believe that our call to NATO countries to consider the possibility of declaring a counter-moratorium remains relevant.
In order to facilitate the search for compromise political and diplomatic solutions, we are ready to take further steps to minimise the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF Treaty based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and balanced consideration of the parties’ interests.
Based on our earlier proposal to develop monitoring tools to support Russia’s initiative on counter-moratoriums, we invite all interested parties to consider specific options for adopting mutual verification measures in order to address existing concerns.
In particular, we could focus on the verification measures with regard to the Aegis Ashore complexes with Mk-41 launchers that are deployed at US and NATO bases in Europe, as well as 9M729 missiles at the facilities operated by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Kaliningrad Region. The verification measures would confirm the absence of ground-based INF missiles on the facilities covered by the agreements, as well as the weapons, on the specifications and classification of which the parties were unable to reach an agreement (Russian 9M729 missile).
Remaining committed to the consistent position on the full compliance of the 9M729 missile with the provisions of the previously existing INF Treaty, the Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of good will, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia, but do so only provided NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty in Europe.
We also call on all the stakeholders to search for ways to maintain stability and prevent missile crises “in a world without the INF Treaty” as it applies to the Asia-Pacific region. We are open to pursue joint work in this area.