Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that Russia's proposals aimed at reducing risks of military incidents in the Euro-Atlantic region are still on the table, and that Moscow remains prepared to talk with the US about preserving the INF and New START Treaties, as well US missile defense.
"We are interested in saving [the INF] and regret the US' announced intention to withdraw from the treaty," Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference after talks with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger in Moscow on Friday.
"We have expressed our readiness to discuss the present situation, but as we understand it, the US decision is final. It will be announced officially soon, and a six-month countdown will begin, after which the decision to terminate the contract will become a reality," Lavrov lamented.
In any event, the foreign minister stressed that the situation of a lack of dialogue with the US on arms control using diplomatic channels which are currently "frozen" is simply "unacceptable." Established channels of dialogue "have not been used for quite a long period, which, of course, creates a situation which is unacceptable from the point of view of global security interests," Lavrov said. Moscow has consistently pushed for negotiations, both with the Obama administration, and "from the very first days" of President Trump's term, according to Lavrov.
"We have regularly proposed unfreezing those channels of dialogue which are now frozen, and to begin a dialogue on all aspects of strategic stability, including the INF, START, and the ABM, or rather the non-treaty, which doesn't exist because Washington unilaterally withdrew from it, and the situation which is arising in connection with the creation of a global US missile defense system," Lavrov said. These systems naturally have a direct impact on strategic stability, according to the foreign minister.
Russia Wants Talks on Militarization of Space
Moscow is interested in the resumption of a variety of formats on dialogue with Washington on strategic stability after the US midterms, the Russian foreign minister said.
"We are very concerned about the danger of the transformation of outer space into a sphere of armed confrontation. This subject has become more and more worrisome recently," the Russian foreign minister said.
According to Lavrov, the subject "requires a professional, responsible discussion. Otherwise, the situation can get out of control and then, as some experts say, we can forget about stability and security."
President Trump announced US plans to terminate the INF Treaty last month, accusing Moscow of violating its terms. The treaty, signed in 1987, required the Moscow and Washington to destroy their stocks of ground-based short and intermediate-range nuclear-capable missile systems in the 500-5,500 km range and restricted their development. Washington's European allies, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic have voiced concerns about Washington's intention to scrap the treaty. The UK, for its part, supported Trump's move, echoing US claims about Russian violations.