Heiko Maas: Ball is clearly in Russia‘s court as far as preservation of INF Treaty is concerned
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has given an interview to Interfax ahead of his visit to Moscow in which he speaks about Germany‘s position on the INF Treaty and the Ukrainian settlement.Question: Foreign Minister, initial talks on the INF disarmament treaty have yielded no results. Nevertheless, the Russian foreign minister continues to rely on dialogue with the U.S. as a priority and has called on European countries to lend their support to the negotiations. Is that what you intend to do?
Answer: The INF Treaty is an important pillar of the European security architecture. We all have an interest in preserving this agreement, and I am committed to this cause. Talks on the INF Treaty have been taking place between the U.S. and Russia for five years. The fact that there are considerable doubts and concerns has been conveyed to Russia in all sorts of talks - without achieving a solution to date. Russia can save the Treaty by dismantling cruise missiles that violate the agreement. Returning to compliance and safeguarding the INF Treaty are, incidentally, still on the table even after a possible suspension. The ball is clearly in Russia‘s court.
Q.: How are the talks in the Normandy format proceeding, and what do you want to discuss with Sergei Lavrov and Pavlo Klimkin on Friday? Can your trip be interpreted as a renewed attempt to act as a mediator between the two countries?
A.: The situation in eastern Ukraine is untenable. Shots are still being fired on a daily basis and the suffering of the people in the Donbass region is immeasurable, particularly in the winter months. Russia should bring its influence to bear in order to facilitate a peaceful solution. We urgently need to make progress in the Minsk process. I will make the case for this in Kyiv as well, and this is also on the agenda of the talks that we are conducting in the Normandy format.