Two-month deadline will not force Russia to reconsider stance on INF Treaty, says expert

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. The ultimatum that the United States and NATO delivered Russia over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) will not force Moscow to reconsider its position on the need to preserve the deal and discuss related issues in working order, Dmitry Danilov, Head of the European Security Department RAS Institute of Europe, Professor of MGIMO, told TASS on Wednesday.

“It is absolutely clear that ultimatums do not work here. This step of the US and NATO, not even NATO yet but its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, looks rather provocative given that Russia cannot and will not change its position anyway,” he stated. “We’ve stated quite clearly that we do not violate the Treaty, and are ready to discuss the issues related to it.”

“Of course, we will make adjustments to our political planning. Of course, we will consider such factors as how inclined the United States, Europe and NATO will be to reach agreements,” the expert stressed, commenting on Moscow’s possible actions.

Danilov added that Russia would not change its position after 60 days, mentioned by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. “Reaction will be restrained, not sharp (in 60 days – TASS)”, he said. “Obviously the Foreign Ministry will make some statement saying that we abide by all the terms (of the Treaty) and consider the decision of the US to withdraw (from it) to be ungrounded, which is why we regard the requirements on Russia to comply with the terms of the Treaty as provocative, and will likely add that Russia has also expressed concerns about the failure of the United States to abide by the Treaty.”

Russia as pretext

According to the expert, the US has decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty down to several reasons of its own and simply uses Russia’s position as a pretext. “Seeking to provide motivation for its stance, the US is accusing Russia of non-compliance with the Treaty. That’s being said, they first withdraw, then look for pretexts, and Russia is the one in this case,” he emphasized. “The US’s motivation to withdraw from the Treaty has both military and technical and military and economic grounds.”

Bringing the discussion of its withdrawal from the INF Treaty to the NATO level was Washington’s tactical maneuver aimed at depriving Europe of the possibility to make an independent decision on the issue, Danilov said. “In this case, we are speaking about the desire to reduce the level of disagreement with the Europeans following the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty,” he underlined.

The expert noted that European states thus “pander to the US approach, considering it to be least damaging under the circumstances, specifically as far as their image goes.”

US, NATO ultimatum

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Tuesday that the US would stop adhering to the Treaty unless Russia returns to compliance with it within 60 days. Also, the NATO Foreign Ministers on Tuesday urged Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty, pointing out that it is now up to Moscow to preserve the deal.

US President Donald Trump publicly announced plans to pull out of the INF Treaty on October 20 and October 22.

The first time that the US had accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty was back in July 2014. After that Washington has repeated its allegations several times, with which Moscow does not agree, striking back at Washington with counterclaims.

The INF Treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 in Washington, DC and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium-range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter-range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles.

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