Statement by Vladimir Putin on additional steps to de-escalate the situation in Europe in the wake of the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty)
The Russian Federation continues to believe that the INF Treaty was an important element of the architecture ensuring international security and strategic stability. The Treaty played the most particular role in maintaining predictability and restraint in the missile sphere in the European area.
We consider the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, that entailed its termination, as a serious mistake, which increases the risks of triggering a missile arms race, rise of confrontational potential and sliding into an uncontrolled escalation. Given persistent tensions between Russia and NATO, new threats to the European security are 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 lower the risks arising from misunderstandings and disagreements in the missile sphere.
In this context, we reiterate our commitment to the moratorium earlier declared by the Russian Federation on the deployment of ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles until US-manufactured missiles of similar classes appear in the respective regions.
We also believe that our call to NATO countries to consider the possibility of declaring a reciprocal moratorium remains relevant.
To facilitate the search for compromise political and diplomatic solutions, we are ready to take further steps based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and balanced consideration of the parties’ interests that are intended to minimize the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF Treaty.
Building up on our earlier proposal to develop verification tools to support Russia’s initiative on mutual moratoria, we invite all parties concerned to consider specific options of reciprocal verification measures to remove existing concerns.
In particular, these options could include verification measures with regard to the Aegis Ashore systems with Mk-41 launchers that are deployed at US and NATO bases in Europe, as well as 9M729 missiles at the sites of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Kaliningrad Region. The goal of such verification measures would be to confirm the absence of ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles at the sites covered by the agreements and of arms, on specifications and classification of which the parties were unable to reach an agreement (Russian 9M729 missile).
Staying committed to its consistent stance that the 9M729 missile fully complies with the provisions of the former INF Treaty, the Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of good will, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European part of the territory of Russia, but only provided that NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment in Europe of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty.
We also call on all the parties concerned to search for patterns of maintaining stability and preventing missile crises “in a post-INF world” regarding the Asia-Pacific region. We are open to pursuing joint work in this direction.