Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Asahi, former and only USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of striving for military supremacy.
“What's behind the United States' decision to withdraw from the INF is their striving to free themselves of any obligations with respect to weapons and obtain absolute military supremacy", he explained at length.
The politician, who served as general secretary of the former Soviet Union and played a key role in bringing the Cold War to an end by reaching accords with the US on the reduction of nuclear weapons, considers such an aim to be dangerous and unattainable.
“That is an illusory aim, an unfulfilled hope. Hegemony by one single country is not possible in today's world. The result would be destabilisation of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and all the randomness and unpredictability of global politics”, 88-year-old Gorbachev told the newspaper in an interview in Moscow, shortly after the US announced its intention to backtrack on the deal.
"The main thing is to act so as not to allow the world to slide towards an arms race, to a confrontation, and to hostility", Gorbachev said.
“We have to stop working on pipe dreams, and engage with realpolitik. We don't need an apocalypse! We need peace!” he exclaimed emotionally.
"Despite everything, I believe that this is still within our capabilities", he expressed his fervent hope, adding that otherwise, the security of every country, “including the US”, is at stake.
He reminded the interviewers about the two sides’ work on the INF Treaty, bringing up what the US and the Soviet Union agreed on during their first meeting in Geneva – that “a nuclear war is not acceptable and there will be no winners in a nuclear war”.
“We announced that we had to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is something I am still praying for", stressed Gorbachev, having earlier expressed his concerns to Wall Street Journal reporters about the pitfalls of nukes, stressing that they may be launched by mistake or end up in terrorists’ hands.
The politician lamented that out of the three major pillars of global strategic stability – the ABMT, INF, and START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) – only one is left, “but even the fate of the New START, which was signed in 2010, is becoming unclear”, Gorbachev stressed.
On Thursday, the United States successfully tested an INF-banned ground-based intermediate-range missile in California. According to the Defence Department, the missile flew more than 498 kilometres (310 miles) before it was downed just over the ocean.
The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, was terminated on 2 August 2019, at the US' initiative, with America having formally suspended its obligations under the deal six months prior. The treaty will expire in February 2021, but its extension is strongly doubted due to the US’ position on the matter.
Russia and the United States have traded barbs, accusing each other of violating the 1987 deal, which barred any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).