Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he is ready for a “serious conversation” with the US on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty issue despite Washington’s declared intention to withdraw from the pact.
US President Donald Trump had in October announced that his country would pull out of the INF Treaty on account of Russia’s alleged breach of the agreement, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.
The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. The deal marked the first-ever pact reached by the two countries on nuclear disarmament and a major step forward in restricting arms race.
Speaking to Serbia’s Politika newspaper, Putin said: “Despite the US’ declared intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, we are open for a dialogue to search for ways to preserve it. We sent a series of practical proposals to the Americans… We are also ready for a serious conversation on the entire bilateral strategic agenda.”
“The US has de-facto been pursuing the political line aimed at dismantling the system of international agreements in the arms control domain, which pose restrictions on their military buildup, or at selectively complying with those agreements by fulfilling only the provisions that benefit them”, TASS news agency on Wednesday cited Putin as telling the daily.
He said Washington’s plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty became a just another step in a long series of similar decisions and that “the consequences of this policy were going to be extremely negative”.
“Naturally, we are not going to turn a blind eye to the deployment of US missiles that pose a direct threat to our security. We will be forced to take effective reciprocal measures. However, being a responsible and rational country, Russia is not interested in a new arms race,” Putin added.
After a NATO ministerial meeting on December 4, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that his country would stop fulfilling its liabilities under the INF Treaty unless Russia returned to “full and verifiable” compliance with it within 60 days.
Following that, the Russian President said that the US side provided no evidence to prove Moscow’s alleged violations of the treaty. He stressed that he was against dismantling the pact but will have to react correspondingly if the US withdraws from it.