Russia to Express Concern Over US Arms Violating INF Treaty During Friday Talks

© AP PhotoMissiles, SS-23 Destroyed. The 957th and last of the Soviet Union's SS-23 shorter range missiles
Missiles, SS-23 Destroyed. The 957th and last of the Soviet Union's SS-23 shorter range missiles - Sputnik International
BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Russia will express its concern over the US weapons violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) during the Friday meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters.

On late Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov arrived in the Belgian capital of Brussels to take part in the NATO-Russia Council’s meeting that will focus on the situation around the INF Treaty.

“Of course, we will speak about that. We are becoming increasingly concerned over certain aspects of the US [military] policy, which are not in line with the provisions of the [INF] treaty. We will discuss that,” Ryabkov said on late Thursday.

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Ryabkov added that the Russian party would also speak about the ways to resolve existing US concerns over the situation around the INF Treaty.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also said that Russia will inform the NATO countries about its position on the situation around the INF Treaty during the upcoming Friday meeting.

"We will directly inform high-ranking NATO officials about our assessments and ideas on overcoming the today's stalemate," Ryabkov said on late Thursday, pointing out that the US party had already been informed about the Russian position on the issue.

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He expressed a hope that Russia and NATO would feel after the NATO-Russia Council's meeting that the differences on the INF Treaty could be overcome.

"Honestly speaking, I still have doubts that we will manage to do that given, among other things, almost full boycott of the event, held by the Russian Defence Ministry in the Patriot park, staged by embassies of the NATO states. However, we will try [to settle differences]," Ryabkov said.

He also characterized the Western countries' boycott of the Russian Defence Ministry's press briefing on the INF Treaty as unacceptable.

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Ryabkov also said that he would meet US State Department's Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson on the sidelines of the upcoming meeting of five nuclear states in Beijing adding that he was not sure whether she would be ready to discuss the situation around the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

According to some media reports, the United States proposed to hold talks with Russia on arms control on the sidelines of the meeting of five nuclear states in Beijing.

"I do not have such understanding. I have also read the reports… We will have contacts [with Thompson] but I do not know whether Ms Thompson will be ready to discuss the INF Treaty during this meeting," Ryabkov told reporters on late Thursday.

READ MORE: Russian MoD Shows Iskander-M Launchers With 9M729 Rockets Amid INF Row With US

The Russian diplomat added that Moscow was interested in maintaining the dialogue on the issue with the United States.

According to Spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying, the meeting of five nuclear states — China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France — will be held in Beijing on January 30.

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On Friday, the NATO headquarters in Brussels will host the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council that will focus on the situation around the INF Treaty.

In October, US President Donald Trump announced his country’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty over alleged Russian violations of the agreement. On December 4, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Russia had 60 days to start to comply with the agreement, or, otherwise, the United States could leave the treaty on February 2.

The United States has in particular repeatedly voiced concern over Russia's 9M729 missile, which, according to Washington, violates the provisions of the INF treaty. Moscow has refuted US accusations as unsubstantiated, insisting that the missile was tested at the range permitted by the agreement.

Russia, in turn, has complained that launchers of US defence systems in Europe are capable of firing cruise missiles at ranges that are banned by the agreement.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and then-US President Ronald Reagan. The leaders agreed to destroy all cruise or ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (310 and 3,400 miles).

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