Moscow would respond if the US pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a senior Russian senator said following a media report on Washington’s possible withdrawal from the nuclear arms control deal.
“It’s a pretty ridiculous move from the point of view of security of America’s allies and the US itself,” Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house Committee for International Relations, said. The statement came following a report published by Politico, which says that “leading Republican hawks are pushing legislation to compel President Donald Trump to take steps to develop new missiles” which would be “the first steps to jettisoning what is known as the INF treaty.”
Kosachev said that Russian counter-measures would “undoubtedly” follow the decision, adding that Russian medium-range missiles located in the European part of Russia would become “strategic from the point of view of targeting Europeans.”
Meanwhile, Russian strategic nuclear forces would remain a factor affecting American strategic security itself, Kosachev added.Kosachev’s statement was backed by the chairman of the defense committee, Viktor Ozerov.
Ozerov, the head of the Russian Federal Assembly’s Defense and Security Committee, said Russia will closely monitor the activity of the US Congress in this matter.
“We will not turn a blind eye and will retaliate if the withdrawal occurs and leads to an arms buildup, a new missile deployment in Europe,” Ozerov said, adding that Russia has fulfilled all its obligations to destroy medium-range and long-range missiles, monitored by the American side.
Kosachev also emphasized that the idea of pulling out of the nuclear arms control agreement would lead to the dismantling of the arms control legal framework, as well as an “escalation of the arms race, where there can be no winners.” However, the Pentagon, State Department, and the US National Security Council so far have not been supportive of this initiative, the senator added.
Previously, Washington accused Russia of violating the INF treaty, but failed to provide any conclusive evidence, Kosachev said.
Washington and Moscow have been trading accusations of violations of the INF Treaty for years now. Moscow says that the US drone program, the target missiles for testing ABM technology, and the placement of a naval vertical launch system as part of the AEGIS Ashore shield in Eastern Europe are all in violation of the INF.
“If the current fuss about withdrawing from the treaty is caused by the desire to free their hands to continue this practice [deployment of US missiles], it is not the best way to go down in history for the Trump administration,” Kosachev said.
He added that it will lead to growing threats for everyone, especially for America itself.
“It will also hit its European allies in the same way as the recent initiative of the Senate to extend American sanctions on European energy companies,” the senator said, referring to the recent round of sanctions against Russia that would involve fines on EU companies contributing to joint pipeline projects.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed by the leaders of the US and the Soviet Union in 1987. It prohibits possession of nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges between 500 and 5,500km.