Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in connection with statements by US special presidential envoy for arms control

We have noted remarks by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, published on December 8 by the US NGO, the National Institute for Public Policy.

We would like to note that the incumbent US administration’s representative has responded negatively to the official Russian proposal made in October 2018 to pass a bilateral statement confirming the unacceptability of nuclear war which is not winnable, and which should never be unleashed. At the same time, it is strange that, contrary to generally accepted diplomatic practice, the US party is responding two years on through the belated publication of the US representative’s remarks at an expert seminar.

The US refusal to accept the Russian proposal seems hardly surprising against the background of Washington’s line of reducing the nuclear threshold and its active implementation of military programmes highlighting the dangerous and absurd US intention to wage a nuclear war and to win in nuclear conflicts. The references to a reluctance to believe in Russia’s sincerity look like a miserable attempt to justify, to at least some extent, the US administration’s unconstructive line in matters of international security and stability, which has, in effect, become its trademark.

We can see quite clearly a striving to undermine, to the maximum extent, the foundation for possible subsequent de-escalation efforts by Moscow and Washington to find a mutually acceptable solution to problems that have accumulated in the strategic sphere. It appears that this is the precise aim of Mr Billingslea’s statement on the need to develop and deploy ground-based medium-range and shorter-range US missiles to counter Russia and China. These obviously destabilising public statements don’t even conceal the fact that they aim to reduce opportunities for preventing new missile crises.

We are urging the US party to renounce plans that are fraught with serious risks. Russia’s proposal for dialogue, as well as our specific initiatives aimed at preventing a missile arms race in a post-INF Treaty world, remain in force.

Regarding the extension of the START Treaty, it appears that the US party also wishes to blame the Russian party for the impasse at the consultations on this subject, caused by the US administration's endless attempts to up the ante and to obtain substantial unilateral advantages.

In turn, we continue to call for an unconditional extension of the signed version of the START Treaty for a period of five years, as stipulated by its provisions. We have repeatedly noted that this would help gain time for a detailed conversation with the US party on future arms control. Our proposals on drafting a new comprehensive security equation that would consider all the factors influencing strategic stability, which were earlier submitted to the US side, remain completely topical.