Russia’s suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty does not mean that an arms race will start, chairman of the Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky told Rossiya-24 TV channel on Tuesday.
"There are no talks about an arms race. Russia has enough and more than enough means to repel any attack, which is why there are no grounds to expect an arms race," Slutsky is quoted as saying by TASS.
"We have always supported disarmament," Slutsky stressed, noting that Moscow is ready to return to the INF Treaty if the US fulfills its obligations under the treaty. However, according to the official, Washington is placing missile defense systems in Romania instead, "which can be easily modified to launch surface-to-surface missiles of intermediate and smaller range."
Slutsky also pointed out that the potential signing of a trilateral nuclear deal between the US, Russia and China, supported by the US side, indirectly undermines the possibility of extending the New START in 2021.
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 accused Russia of violating the Treaty but Moscow strongly dismissed all accusations and expressed grievances concerning Washington’s non-compliance.
On February 1, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo declared that Washington was suspending compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty starting from February 2 and would quit the treaty altogether in six months’ time, because, they argued, Russia was in breach of its terms.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 2 declared Moscow was suspending its participation in the agreement. He issued orders to refrain from initiating negotiations with Washington on this issue, adding that it was up to the US side to advance towards a condition for an equitable and meaningful dialogue.