07:24 GMT26 February 2020
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    Russia is fully complying with commitments made under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and does not want to withdraw from it, Viktor Ozerov, the Chairman of the Federation Council on Defense and Security, told RIA Novosti.

    However, if the United States decides to put its missiles in Eastern Europe, Russia will seriously consider pulling out of the agreement, Ozerov said.

    Earlier, AP reported that the Obama Administration plans to deploy land-based missiles in Eastern Europe that "could pre-emptively destroy the Russian weapons" in response to Moscow's alleged violation of the INF treaty.

    If Washington deploys its missiles in Eastern Europe, its objective wouldn't be to target sites in the Middle East, but to fire at Russia from a close distance, Ozerov said, adding that in this case Russia will have to respond with force.

    "Russia has enough strength and means for an adequate response — starting from the withdrawal from the INF treaty and deploying "Iskanders" (short-range ballistic missile system, also known by its NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) along our Western borders," Ozerov told RIA Novosti.

    The Chairman of the Defense Committee stressed that Russia is fully complying with the INF treaty, and although Washington says Moscow violated the agreement in the past, it was not able to provide factual evidence of that.

    As long as the United States sticks to its commitments under the treaty, Russia is willing to respect the agreement as well, Ozerov said, adding that it's pointless to blackmail Russia by threatening to deploy missiles in Eastern Europe. Instead, it is a much better idea to try to find a partnership-based agreement with Russia.

    The INF treaty was signed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987. The agreement eliminates all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate range, between 500 and 5,000 km (300 — 3,400 miles).

    In recent years, both the United States and Russia accused each other of violating terms of the treaty. In 2012, Washington accused Moscow of violating the agreement by allegedly launching a cruise missile from an "Iskander" missile system. However, the US government was not able to provide any factual evidence of their claim. Russia, on the other hand, said US drones were also a violation of the treaty.

    Related:

    Russia, US to Discuss Agreement on Mid, Short-Range Missiles in September - Source
    Tags:
    missile systems, Iskander-M, INF treaty, Viktor Ozerov, United States, Russia
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