Russia, US hold talks on INF treaty

Geneva: Inter-departmental consultations between Russia and the United States on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty have started in Geneva.

The Russian delegation is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov while the US delegation is headed by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea L. Thompson. This will be their first encounter since Thompson’s appointment.

As Ryabkov told journalists, Russia is ready for serious work with the United States at the upcoming consultations and urges Washington to give up advancing any ultimatums and preconditions.

The current round of consultations is being held amid plans announced by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Also, US Secretary of State Pompeo announced on December 4 that the US would stop adhering to the treaty unless Russia returned to compliance with it within 60 days. Therefore, in early February, Washington may start the countdown of its withdrawal from the treaty.

In recent years, the United States has numerously accused Russia of violating the treaty. The Russian side has persistently rejected these accusations and advanced counter-claims of the US failure to comply with the INF Treaty.

Washington asserts that the 9M729 ground-based missile allegedly violates the treaty’s provisions by its characteristics.

Meanwhile, Moscow says some types of US attack drones fully fall under the definition of the “ground-launched cruise missile” in the INF Treaty. Russia is also concerned over the so-called target missiles, which the United States is developing.

Also, Russia considers the capabilities of the US Mk-41 launching systems to launch medium-range Tomahawk cruise missiles and other attack weapons from the ground as the direct breach of the INF Treaty.

The INF deal was concluded on December 8, 1987, and 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).