Russian Federation to prevent deployment of USA missiles to Baltic States

Frederick Owens
February 9, 2019

Russian Federation says the United States should destroy its MK-41 missile-defense launch system deployed in NATO-member Romania in order to return to compliance with a landmark Cold War-era nuclear treaty.

The Russian side suggested that the Americans "return to strict compliance" with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty before it expires in six months.

Russian Federation welcomed an offer by U.S. President Donald Trump to renegotiate a landmark nuclear missile pact after he quit the agreement, while cautioning that it's received no specific proposals yet.

Russia's state-owned TASS news agency quoted a Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on 7 February as saying that Russian diplomats and military will do everything possible to prevent the deployment of USA missiles to the Baltic States.

"As soon as our United States colleagues are ready to hand over to us something like this in practical terms, we will certainly consider this with interest and I hope in a positive way", Ryabkov said. The treaty remained in place after the Soviet Union's collapse, but the Trump administration and NATO have argued that Moscow has violated the agreement's terms. "So far, we haven't seen anything except for a proposal to sign such a treaty in a handsome room".

Negotiations must be wrapped up by the end of the year, before the US enters a new campaign period for the 2020 elections, said Ryabkov, who expressed alarm at what he described as assurances by USA officials that there's still plenty of time to resolve the issue.

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To that end, the Russian Defense Ministry asked the USA military to destroy ground-based universal Mk-41 launchers capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

"I will make every possible effort to prevent it", he said. Russia, which has denied any breaches, has followed suit.

Russia's demand "is purely an excuse for its own military programs that directly violate the INF Treaty", Melescanu said, adding that Romania will hold consultations with its allies and will come up with a common position on the issue.

Ryabkov said the United States had not sent Moscow any concrete proposals for a new pact.

Ryabkov on Thursday expressed particular worry about US plans to produce new, low-yield nuclear weapons, warning that it could dramatically lower the threshold for their use.

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