10 Dec 2019 21:14

Kosachyov sees chances of renewing INF dialogue with U.S

MOSCOW. Dec 10 (Interfax) - The United States' defense budget ban on procuring and deploying new ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range nuclear forces (INF) gives hope of resuming dialogue on the issue, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Federation Council's foreign affairs committee.

"According to press reports, the Congress document prohibits the purchase and deployment of new ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles and proposes analyzing alternatives to these new missiles. It is hard to say now to what extent this provision will be implemented and whether the 'alternatives' won't be more dangerous than the INFs themselves. However, the very fact gives some chance of resuming dialogue on this class of missiles," Kosachyov wrote on Facebook.

However, this will be much harder to do after the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, he said.

"But what matters is the very fact that this topic remains within the field of vision of politicians in Washington. There is something to discuss," Kosachyov said, commenting on the reports that U.S. Congress had approved next year's defense budget at $738 billion.

"The document, though, can hardly be called 'defensive,' it allocates $71.5 billion for international campaigns alone. This is more than Russia's entire military spending," Kosachyov said.

The U.S. defense budget also includes sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines, he said.

"Effectively, it is a military operation, not least against European companies involved in the implementation of the project. As Republican Senator Ted Cruz said, to explain the inclusion of sanctions precisely in the defense bill, the commissioning of the pipelines would give Russia billions of dollars which would be used to finance military aggression against America and against Europe."

That was said in the context of a U.S. military budget which is 15 times Russia's (the factor was 13.4 and 10.6 in 2018 and 2017 respectively), the Russian senator said.