Washington’s INF Treaty pullout to make life more dangerous for Europeans — Russian MP

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VIENNA, February 21. /TASS/. Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty will put the lives of people in all European countries in danger, Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy said, addressing a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Thursday.

“Our American colleagues are confident they defeated everything and everyone in the Cold War and can continue to impose their will on European countries like they did before, and so they have decided to leave the Treaty. I would like to point out that this move will make life more dangerous for people in every European country,” Tolstoy said.

According to him, the deployment of missiles to Romania, Poland and the Baltic states poses danger to Russia’s security. The Duma deputy speaker noted that the arrival time of a missile launched from Romania would be ten minutes. “We all will find ourselves in a situation when a decision must be made in ten minutes,” he stressed. At the same time, he reiterated that Russia “will deploy neither interceptor missiles nor other weapons if the other party – NATO member states – refrains from taking such steps.”

The Duma deputy speaker stressed that in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about ways to counter threats to Russia’s security, including the development of “nuclear propelled missiles that have unlimited range and operating time” and hypersonic missiles.

“This is a highly unpleasant situation, it is very dangerous for all countries and it may even go beyond our debates about institutional changes,” Tolstoy concluded.

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington on many occasions had accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russia returns to “real and verifiable” compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue.

Putin said in his State of the Nation address on February 20 that “Russia will have to develop and deploy weapons that can be used not only against areas from which a direct threat will come but also against territories where decision-making centers are located.” He also stressed that the US had blatantly ignored the INF Treaty by deploying missile launchers to Romania and Poland.

“The US first started developing and using intermediate range missiles it deceitfully called target missiles. Then it began to deploy the Mk-41 universal launchers to Europe, which are capable of launching Tomahawk intermediate range cruise missiles for combat purposes,” Putin pointed out, adding that “by doing all this, the United States blatantly ignored Articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty.”

The Russian leader noted that under Article 4, Paragraph 1, of the Treaty, “each Party shall eliminate all its intermediate-range missiles and launchers of such missiles so that no such missiles, launchers, support structures or support equipment shall be possessed by either Party.” At the same time, Article 6, Paragraph 1, says that “upon entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter, neither Party shall produce or flight-test any intermediate-range missiles or produce any stages of such missiles or any launchers of such missiles or produce, flight-test or launch any shorter-range missiles or produce any stages of such missiles or any launchers of such missiles.”

“By launching intermediate-range target missiles and deploying launchers capable of using Tomahawk cruise missiles to Romania and Poland, the US openly and flagrantly violated these requirements of the Treaty,” Putin said.

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