February 2, 2019
On February 2, the US Department of State issued a press statement officially notifying the Russian Federation that the United States had suspended its obligations under the 1987 Soviet-US Treaty on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) and had launched the procedure of withdrawing from it. At the same time, the Americans announced that they no longer consider themselves to be bound by the treaty obligations, which means that they can openly design, produce and deploy the weapon systems prohibited under the treaty.
By doing this, Washington, whose compliance with the INF Treaty we questioned for many years, has entered the path towards destroying the treaty, thereby delivering yet another crushing blow at the arms control system that took decades of painstaking efforts to create. This move will certainly have dramatic and far-flung consequences for the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability, primarily in Europe. Responsibility for this will rest fully and squarely with the United States.
Russia has done its best to preserve the treaty. We tried many times to engage the Americans in a professional discussion and proposed practical initiatives that could help settle mutual complaints. Showing goodwill, we adopted unprecedented transparency measures that went beyond the framework of the treaty obligations. However, all our attempts were disregarded or blocked by the United States, which has long opted for destroying the INF Treaty so as to remove any restrictions that hindered the build-up of its missile potential.
In light of the new threats created by Washington, we will have to take the necessary measures to ensure our national security. Russia reserves the right to reciprocate by launching the design, production and deployment of ground-launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on February 2 that Russia, aware of its role in preserving international peace and security, would not deploy intermediate- or shorter-range weapons in Europe or anywhere else until US weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world. If Washington revises its destructive policy and resumes its obligations under the INF Treaty, we will be ready to conduct a meaningful dialogue on the treaty or any other subjects of strategic stability based on mutual consideration and respect for one another’s interests, as well as the interests of the international community.