Russia signals willingness to save INF treaty as it remains in 'material breach'

Caravanserai and AFP


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gives his annual press conference in Moscow January 16. Russia is willing to work toward salvaging the INF treaty, said Lavrov. [Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP]

GENEVA, Switzerland -- Russia's position on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) appeared to weaken Wednesday (January 16) as its top diplomat expressed the Kremlin's willingness to work toward salvaging the deal.

Moscow was ready to work with Washington to save a crucial arms control treaty, calling on Europe to help in faltering talks, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"We are still ready to work to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," Lavrov told reporters.

US and Russian diplomats met in Geneva amid widespread concern over the fate of the agreement, after the US administration said in October it would pull out of the deal unless Russia lived up to its terms.


Russian troops prepare to launch an Iskander-M ballistic missile in March in Astrakhan Province. The 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8, which is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, is thought to be similar to the Iskander. [Russian Defence Ministry]

Public concern over Russian non-compliance dates back to 2014, when the US State Department said in an annual report that "the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty", and that the United States had raised these concerns with Moscow in 2013.

The same reports for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 repeated the claim.

The United States revealed in early 2017 that a new Russian ground-launched cruise missile known variously as the SSC-8 or the 9M729 breaches the pact. The weapon has a range of 2,500km, falling within the prohibited range, the Economist reported last year.

Russia has secretly deployed two operational battalions, each with about 36 missiles, with at least one situated in Russia's central military district, putting it in range of targets in Europe, according to the US administration.

Russia has continually denied violating the agreement, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his facetious approach towards nuclear security.

However, the recent statements by Lavrov may signal Russia's willingness to admit its repeated and continual violations of the treaty.

'Material breach'

Meanwhile, at the same meeting in Geneva, US officials reasserted that Russia remains "in material breach" of the INF treaty Tuesday (January 15), raising the prospect that Washington will follow through on threats to ditch the agreement over violations by Moscow.

American negotiators confirmed Washington's intention to exit the treaty starting February 2, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

"The meeting was disappointing as it is clear Russia continues to be in material breach of the Treaty and did not come prepared to explain how it plans to return to full and verifiable compliance," US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson said in a statement.

"Our message was clear: Russia must destroy its noncompliant missile system," she added.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would withdraw within 60 days from the Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms if Russia does not dismantle missiles that the United States claims breach the deal.

Putin responded to the US hard line by threatening to develop more nuclear missiles banned under the treaty.

The landmark treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and led to the elimination of almost 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles.

It put an end to a mini-arms race in the 1980s triggered by the Soviet Union's deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western European capitals.

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9 Comment(s)

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Yeah, that's right


[They are] shaking for sure. Such wreck as Russia is no competitor with the USA by all means.


When I was a kid, my knees would always shake before I started kicking bastards hard. I'm telling this to those who think that the Urus's knees are shaking. They are! Because of an insatiable desire to kick parasite asses! [Urus is one of the ancient names of the Russian people]


Missiles are the factor of deterrence. If there are wolves in the forest, you are not going there because you know they can attack you. The more wolves are there, the less willingness you have to go to the forest. But in order to protect yourself you would take your shotgun and dogs to deter the wolves. The same applies to this treaty and don't you tell Russia is scared of the West. That's a cunning move made to put the adversary at ease and manufacture missiles at the same time. Americans are not stupid and they breached the treaty themselves more than once. Do you think they are immaculate and make no missiles?! Wrong! If nothing else, the Russians are certainly the best in making one thing - the weapons. Imposing sanctions against them you are making a blunder because they (Russians) can do nothing better than the weapons. Better don't poke a sleeping bear with a stick...


[They've] come to realise in Russia that they lack ability to confront the West


Have you heard about the "Perimeter?" You haven't, I guess. That's what Americans are scared of


"You are at fault that I am famished" [quoted from a famous Russian fable] - this is the motto of the modern Western politicians who do not understand what they say, what they want and what they demand from Russia. That's because speeches they deliver are written by the people on the payroll of transnational corporations. And this lack of understanding leads up to made-up pretenses and contrived allegations (Ukraine, Brexit, France etc). And the article is written in this very spirit... Every reasonable person should understand it. Under no circumstances are these dearly loved Western "partners" to be trusted. Never... This has to be the slogan of the Russian diplomacy. The Soviet Union and its citizens came to realise that... [Enemies] have been trying to destroy Russia and its people for several centuries, violating everything they can. However, Russia, being the only state capable of inflicting unacceptable and irreparable damage to the United States, must follow its own way, establish the rules good for itself and maintain the balance of power... Because as soon as this balance is shifted towards the so-called West it will be fully used against Russia and neighbouring small and less powerful (former Soviet) republics. It "was decided" to get out of the world financial crisis, we've been living in since the late 80s, brought upon us by the actions of the so-called TNK, "at the expense of Russia and on the debris of Russia...". Read, research literature and think... Don't l


It means, Russia's knees are shaking


Kremlin whores have come to their senses.