Vladimir Putin's statement was made at a meeting with members of the Russian Security Council on August 5, in the course of which he noted that the six-month period given to the US to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) expired on August 2, 2019.
"The INF Treaty no longer exists. Our US colleagues sent it to the archives, making it a thing of the past", – the head of state stressed. According to him, "the unilateral withdrawal by the United States from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles under a far-fetched pretext creates major complications for world affairs and brings about serious risks for everyone". He rebuked the American government for derailing years of effort and for not engaging in a "meaningful discussion."
President Putin is sure Russia cannot ignore this state of affairs and be content with peaceful disposition assurances by Washington and its allies. In his opinion, US actions that led to the elimination of the INF will inevitably "devalue and shatter the foundations of the global security architecture, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons."
A scenario of this kind, Putin believes, could signal the resumption of an "unfettered" arms race. And to avoid chaos with no rules, restrictions and laws, it is necessary to once again weigh up all the possible dangerous consequences and start a serious and meaningful dialogue without any ambiguity. Moreover, the Russian leader said that full-fledged negotiations to ensure strategic stability and security should be resumed "without delay". At the same time, Moscow reckons upon common sense and a sense of responsibility from Washington.
Given the current situation, the head of state instructed the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service to closely and thoroughly monitor the United States' further steps as regards developing, producing and deploying short- and intermediate-range missiles. At the same time, Vladimir Putin noted that in case of obtaining "reliable information whereby the United States completes the development of these systems and starts to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles."
This will naturally take time, but the head of state hastened to reassure his fellow citizens that the country still has the X-101 and the Kinzhal air-launched missiles, the Kalibr sea-launched missile, as well as future weapons systems, including Tsirkon-class hypersonic systems. Concurrently, Putin emphasized that no action will be taken by the Russian side unless it has to respond.
It should be highlighted that the statement by the President of Russia on America's unilateral withdrawal from the INF treaty is an outstanding event pointing to the uneasy relationship between Russia and the United States, as well as international tensions as a whole. It is beyond all doubt that the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty and Washington's statement about not going to extend the START-3 Treaty which expires in February 2021, puts the world on the threshold of a new arms race round and actually pushes towards the abyss of a nuclear war.
Speaking about Vladimir Putin's current message, only two similar statements by leaders of the USSR and Russia are recalled – a genre unique in its kind.
Thus, September 29, 1983 saw then Soviet leader Yuri Andropov's statement about the international course pursued by US President Ronald Reagan's administration. The speech was brought about by numerous accusations by the West, including the United States, against Moscow regarding the South Korean Boeing with 269 passengers on board shot down on September 1 that year over Sakhalin.
In his statement, Andropov stressed that the militaristic course of Washington's foreign policy poses a threat to the entire world. In proof of his words, the politician gave an example of America's Europe-deployed medium-range Pershing II missiles targeted against the USSR, as well as Washington's large-scale programs to produce all the types of weapons – nuclear, chemical, conventional. At the same time, Andropov said, the United States planned to move the arms race into space – that program was dubbed "star wars".
A similar address to the US and NATO was made on March 24, 1999 by then President of Russia Boris Yeltsin as regards the bombing of Yugoslavia. In his televised message, he said such a step would be a blow to the entire international community. President Yeltsin stressed that the bombing of Yugoslavia was about European security, about war in Europe or maybe even more. This is a very serious step, and making it without the UN Security Council is more than incomprehensible, the president said.
However, neither Andropov's statement nor Yeltsin's appeal did impress the United States and NATO countries in a proper way: in late November 1983, Washington began deploying Pershing II missiles in Western Europe; and in March 1999, NATO started to bomb the territory of former Yugoslavia.
Whether the current statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty will have a proper effect or not is far from being a rhetorical question, since it is of utmost importance in terms of global security.