FILE PHOTO. © Reuters/ US Navy / Ford Williams
"The INF Treaty is dealing with the security of the European countries and the Russian Federation, not with the security of the US,” Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, told RT, adding that Washington has apparently not been very interested in preserving the agreement, which it began to see as a limitation on its own military capabilities.
Washington confirmed its withdrawal from the treaty, signed by the US and the USSR back in 1987, earlier this year and Moscow said it would also quit in a mirror response. The pact banned nuclear-armed and conventional land-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500km.
The fact that Washington opted for an openly confrontational approach to talks with Moscow on the issue only proves that the US was not genuinely interested in keeping the agreement but instead looked for a pretext to leave it.
For me it is clear: the US decided to withdraw, the US needs this type of missiles.
The US diplomats delivered their Russian counterparts an ultimatum by saying that Russia must destroy the 9M729 missile, which supposedly violates the treaty, along with its launchers and all relevant equipment. "It is not a diplomatic approach. It is impossible to imagine that somebody would attempt to impose such decisions on a permanent member of the UN Security Council,” Antonov said. Apart from that, the US also ignored all Russia’s attempts to build a transparent and meaningful dialog on the issue.
The US snubbed a presentation of the missile in question organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. "We have invited military attaches … we offered them to look at our missile,” Antonov said, noting that "it is very strange that the US representatives have decided not to participate in the event.”
At the same time, the US squarely dismissed all of Russia’s concerns about their alleged violations of the INF Treaty. Responding to Moscow’s statements on the issue, Washington said that its ground-based missile defense systems in Europe, which, according to Russia, have launchers technically capable of firing cruise missiles, were "totally different” and could fire only "defensive” missiles.
It further noted that its target missiles, which Russia says perfectly emulate cruise missiles banned under the INF, are actually in full compliance with it while the US attack drones that could potentially serve the same purpose as short- or mid-range missiles cannot be seen as such at all.
The ambassador also said that Russia will quickly adapt to the new environment and will find a way to protect itself. Still, the dismantling of the treaty would not make any country in the world safer, including the US itself and might yet lead to another security crisis, he warned.
If the US decides to deploy its new missiles in Europe, "it will be a crisis of security for the European countries,” Antonov said.
‘Toxic dust’ in Washington poisons atmosphere in relations between Russia & US
The US, however, seems to be more focused on containing Russia at any cost, even if it harms international security and the prosperity of other nations, the ambassador complained, citing numerous sanctions that Washington imposed over the last 18 months and the prospect of some new ones.
One US draft bill, Antonov said he is aware of, could "punish” Russia for supplying the Syrian Armed Forces with arms and equipment they need to defend themselves and their country. Even though Russia and the US "fight against terrorism on separate fronts” in Syria, both nations seek to combat the common threat of extremism. However, now Washington is apparently ready to sacrifice this goal in its feud with Moscow, he added.
Other examples of Washington hampering cooperation with Moscow are: US pressure on the EU over construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that European countries find "very useful” and is a purely economic project, and sanctions against the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, that prevent him from participating in "very important talks” with his American counterparts about cooperation in space between Russia and the US.
"I try to understand the logic of the congressmen and senators, who introduce such sanctions but I fail to do so,” he told RT. At the same time, he said that Russia is aware of the current political climate in Washington and does not intend to "press on” the US to speed up the improvement of bilateral ties.
Moscow hopes that the "toxic dust” filling the atmosphere in Washington will eventually subside, opening new ways of cooperation between the two great powers, the ambassador added.
Russia and US are ‘doomed’ to cooperate
Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington have no other choice but to work together despite all the differences in their bilateral relations, according to Antonov. "I would like to remind you that the US and Russia are great powers…major nuclear-weapon states,” he said, adding that the two also bear "special responsibility for international peace and security” as permanent members of the UN Security Council.
We are doomed to cooperate to deal with the international issues
The ambassador noted that, in 2020, the world will see a Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, adding that it would be increasingly difficult to convince non-nuclear states to stick to the non-proliferation regime if the nuclear powers, including Russia and the US, do not demonstrate any achievements in nuclear disarmament, as well as the joint resolve to keep that path.
"I am sure that the non-nuclear state will ask us, the nuclear states, what kind of achievements in nuclear disarmament can you present to us – and it will be a very difficult conversation on that issue,” he said. At the same time, he also said that Moscow and Washington still have some time to change the potential outcome of that conference.
"I’m sure, when we’re together we can solve many, many pressing problems,” he said, adding that Russia is always "open to finding a solution together with the US.”