09.01.2019 | Russia ‘ready’ for showdown with US over nuclear weapons treaty
Source - The Daily Express
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow would be happy for negotiations to take place in the form a joint commission or in any format convenient for the US. The latest push towards dialogue comes amid growing fears Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty could spark a dangerous global arms race.
Mr Ryabkov said: “We are ready for dialogue if the United States will be ready for this."
He told reporters: "If it happens tomorrow, then we are ready tomorrow. But the dialogue should be on the basis of equality of rights.
“All concerns may be resolved if dialogue is held on the basis of equality and mutual respect."
The INF treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the US in December 1987 and came into force the following year.
The accord has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades and required both countries to eliminate all their nuclear missiles with a rage of between 300 miles and 3,400 miles.
The treaty was the first time the countries had agreed to reduce their nuclear weapons and led to nearly 2,700 short and medium-range missiles being dismantled.
But Washington has accused Russia of repeatedly violating the terms of the treaty and Mr Trump is now planning to pull out.
Moscow flatly denies the claims and warned the demise of the INF treaty could lead to global destabilisation.
And the Kremlin also rejected a December 4 ultimatum issued by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who announced the US would stop fulfilling its liabilities under the INF treaty unless Russia returned to "full and verifiable" compliance with it within 60 days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US had provided no evidence to prove Russia’s alleged violations of the treaty.
Mr Putin stressed Russia is against dismantling the INF but said it would have to react correspondingly if the Washington withdraws.
Mr Ryabkov said: "We are deeply concerned about the situation around the treaty. There are many chances that the US will withdraw from the INF treaty in the near future.
"We are ready for consultations at the level of the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Security Councils.”