18 Jun 2019 14:38

Moscow ready to retaliate if U.S. escalates INF situation - Ryabkov

MOSCOW. June 18 (Interfax) - Russia will not be the first to deploy ground-launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles but will "keep its gunpowder dry" and be ready if the United States escalates the situation any further, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said whilst the State Duma was debating the presidential bill suspending the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"The Russian president said on February 2 that, as a responsible party maintaining global peace and security, we will begin research-and-development of an intermediate-range system in order to fend off, if necessary, the United States' advanced potential [of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles prohibited by the bilateral treaty]. At the same time, we will abstain from deploying our systems of the type anywhere until the United States does so," Ryabkov said.

"I see this as an utmost demonstration of our goodwill and responsibility. Still, we'll keep our gunpowder dry and stand ready to act if the United States continues to destabilize the situation and escalate tensions," he said.

"We'd like to resume the implementation of this treaty if the United States is ready to act likewise," Ryabkov said.

"However, we're sure that nothing of the sort will happen, and that the treaty will cease to exist on August 2, after the six-month period prescribed by the treaty to pass after the issuance of the U.S.' withdrawal notice expires," he said.