Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Washington has already made its final decision concerning the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and that in less than two months the White House will formally withdraw from the 1987 treaty.
“With the withdrawal from the INF Treaty, which has not yet been stated officially, although the intention has been stated, and in the negotiations in Moscow including the meeting between President Putin and John Bolton, it became clear that this decision had been made, and that it would apparently be formalized very soon or within a month or a month and a half,” the Russian Foreign Minister said during a broadcast of the TV channel Russia 24.
According to Lavrov, Russia will not respond to the US’s withdrawal from the treaty in ways that are costly for itself, as it did during the arms race. “We will never do it through such costly methods that would constitute a repeat of the example when the Soviet Union engaged in an all-out program and drastically undermined its economic and financial capabilities,” Lavrov emphasized.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with other members of Russia’s Security Council to discuss, among other things, strategic stability in the context of a possible US withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
“There was a detailed exchange of opinions on matters of strategic stability, including in the context of the US’s intentions to pull out of the INF Treaty, as well as other aspects of Russian-American relations,” said Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as cited by Interfax.
Last week, US President Donald Trump announced that the US may withdraw from the treaty signed in the time of the Soviet Union which formalized the agreement between the US and the USSR not to produce, use or store short (500-1,000 km) or intermediate (1,000-5,500 km) range ground-based ballistic missiles. Trump said that Russia has been violating the terms of the agreement.
The INF Treaty was brought up during US Security Advisor John Bolton’s recent visit to Moscow, when he met with Russian President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. During the talks, Putin called Washington “belligerent”.
The INF Treaty was unlimited in duration. Each party could withdraw from the agreement if it decided that “exclusive circumstances related to maintaining the treaty” were to threaten its “highest interests”. Notice of withdrawal must be given in six months.