On December 4th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Russia has 60 days to start ‘complying’ to the INF, otherwise the US will finalize its withdrawal.
According to Pompeo, Russia has developed “multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles,” in a move that allegedly falls outside of the Cold War-era arms agreement.
“Its range makes it a direct menace to Europe,” he said after a summit with NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels.
Pompeo said that the US would not produce, deploy or test any such systems during the 60-day period.
“During these 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period. We’ve talked to the Russians a great deal. We’re hopeful they’ll change course, but there’s been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so.”
NATO expressed its support to the US demands in own statement. The statement reiterated that the US and other allied states have continuously raised their concerns and warned Russia to comply to the INF.
“Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty,” the statement read.
The statement also absolves the US from any possible doubt that it may have also breached the INF, despite Russia repeatedly accusing it of doing so.
“The United States has remained in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty since it entered into force. Allies have emphasized that the situation whereby the United States and other parties fully abide by the Treaty and Russia does not, is not sustainable.”
NATO also claimed that it’s firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The US and NATO “put the ball in Russia’s court” by calling on it to fully and verifiably comply to the INF in order to preserve it.
US President Donald Trump officially announced US plans to withdraw from the INF treaty on October 20th, saying that the US is at a disadvantage because of it.
“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” Trump said. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”
Russia rejected the US-NATO accusations that it is violating the INF treaty as well as the US ultimatum.
“Russia is following the provisions of the treaty and the American side knows this well,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed.
Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov said that if the INF Treaty is cancelled, then Russian responsive measures will target the states that accommodate US intermediate-range and short-range missiles.
“As military professionals, you should understand that not US territory, but the countries that accommodate US systems of intermediate-range and short-range missiles will become the targets of Russian responsive measures”, Gen. Gerasimov told foreign military attaches.
“One of the main destructive factors deteriorating the international situation is the activities of the United States aimed at retaining the predominant role of the US in the world and excluding other countries from competition.”
President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was against the destruction of the INF treaty, but would respond accordingly if this happens. He added that the US made the decision to leave the treaty long before the public announcement and used alleged violations by Russia as a pretext to do it.
“This means that the decision has long been made, but it has been made sneakily. They thought we wouldn’t notice this, but this is already in the Pentagon’s budget — the creation of these missiles. But only after it they announced publicly that they were leaving. As the next step, they started to think whom they could shuffle blame onto. Well, to say ‘Russia is to blame’ is the easiest and the most habitual thing for an ordinary Western person. This is not true, we are against the destruction of the treaty, but if it happens, we will react accordingly”, Putin said.
“Now, our American partners apparently believe that the situation has changed so much that the United States should also have such weapons. What’s our answer? It’s simple: we will develop them, too.”
The collapse of the INF treaty means that in case of a large open regional war, the entire region will suffer a devastating blow from the use of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. Furthermore, many small European nations will be fully eliminated as a result of the conflict. According to some experts, this is the very scenario promoted by the Washington establsihment and its proxies within leadership of eastern European states.