21:59 GMT22 October 2020
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    SAN FRANCISCO (Sputnik) – Russia and the United States must start serious talks on the issue of the deployment of short- and medium-range missiles, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said at the bilateral Fort Ross Dialogue forum.

    "If the United States deploys such missiles close to our country, we will be forced to defend our country … It is time for us to gather in Geneva, or in Moscow, or Washington and to approach this issue very seriously," Antonov stressed on Sunday.

    The Russian ambassador recalled the recent proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to introduce a moratorium on the deployment of short- and medium-range missiles in Europe and other regions.

    "We are calling on the United States and other NATO countries to join this moratorium," Antonov said at the Fort Ross forum, emphasizing that Russia "is not interested in an arms race."

    The Russian ambassador firmly excluded the possibility of a Russian-US nuclear war in the near future.

    "I completely disagree with those who say that a nuclear war is coming. But we must avoid the possibility of war. That’s why it’s important for us to restore all communication channels," Antonov stressed.

    Russian Ambassador to the United States has called for the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), reiterating Russia’s concerns about strategic stability.

    "It is very simple to extend the agreement, as is. If the United States, like Russia, has its own concerns about other issues of strategic stability, it is time to get together and tackle these issues. We are ready, we are still waiting for a positive response from the American side," Antonov said at the Fort Ross Dialogue forum on Sunday.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed in September that Russia believed that the New START treaty must be extended to maintain at least some kind of a mechanism in the field of strategic stability.

    "Today there is only one agreement between the US and Russia – the START treaty. And in February 2021 there will be nothing left. And that will be for the first time in 50 years," Antonov pointed out on Sunday.

    The New START is the last remaining arms control treaty in force between Russia and the United States, which withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August. The agreement, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, banned all short-medium and intermediate-range ground-launched missiles.

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    Tags:
    INF, Anatoly Antonov, deployment, missile
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