France’s foreign policy should be independent from NATO, and Paris should not interfere in the escalation of tensions between the United States and Russia, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the party La France Insoumise (Unbowed France) and 2017 candidate for president, penned in an op-ed for French newspaper Liberation.
“The risk is there in Europe since the announcement by the United States of the installation in Poland of missiles turned towards Russia. It is therefore urgent to get out of this escalation by taking an independent stance from NATO. […] The fear of Russians is absurd! These are our natural partners”, the French politician wrote.
At the same time, the US gave Russia six months to “return to compliance” with the agreement as Washington is going through the withdrawal process, and said that the destruction of all ground-launched 9M729 missiles and their launchers was an essential step for the treaty to be salvaged.
In light of of the announcement, NATO allies expressed “full support” for Washington’s withdrawal:
“The United States is taking this action in response to the significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security posed by Russia’s covert testing, production, and fielding of 9M729 ground-launched missiles systems. Allies fully support this action”.
French President Emmanuel Macron previously emphasised that Washington’s decision to unilaterally pull out of the nuclear arms treaty posed a threat to Europe’s security.
The Trump administration has accused Moscow of testing 9M729 missiles at ranges prohibited under the INF. Moscow has vehemently denied the allegations, stressing that Washington was deploying launchers for Tomahawk cruise missiles in Romania and Poland.
"The US first started developing and using intermediate range missiles it deceitfully called target missiles. Then it began to deploy the Mk-41 universal launchers to Europe, which are capable of launching Tomahawk intermediate range cruise missiles for combat purposes", Putin said last month, adding that "by doing all this, the United States blatantly ignored Articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty”.
The Russian Defence Ministry also held a briefing to reveal the characteristics of the 9M729 missile and prove that it never violated the agreement. The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the US in 1987, and envisaged the destruction of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.