12 Mar 2019 10:26

Russia did everything it could to save INF Treaty - ambassador

WASHINGTON. March 12 (Interfax) - Moscow has met every condition to preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said at the 2019 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference.

"I'd like to emphasize that we have done everything we could to save this treaty, considering its importance for the strategic stability in Europe and the world," Antonov said.

Moscow took "unprecedented transparency measures," which went beyond its obligations under the treaty but, unfortunately, the United States rejected them and gave Russia an ultimatum, Antonov said.

Everything started in 1999 when Washington tested attack drones, which had the same characteristics as the ground-launched cruise missile prohibited by the treaty, Antonov said, adding the United States said the vehicle was necessary to counter China.

"The United States was looking for a pretext and found it: they told a tale about the so-called Russian 9M729 missile," Antonov said.

"I think that the dismantlement of the INF Treaty will have very sad consequences for Russian-U.S. and international relations," he said.

Russia and the United States are not "enemies," Antonov said. They are facing "common security challenges," above all international terrorism, he said.

"The United States and Russia need a full-scale dialogue," Antonov added.

The United States suspended its participation in the INF Treaty on February 2 and pledged to quit the agreement in six months unless Russia resumed its fulfillment. In the opinion of Washington, the 9M729 cruise missile of Russia's Iskander-M system violates the INF Treaty.

Russia denied the U.S. allegations and accused Washington of breaching the INF Treaty by deploying MK-41 vertical launching systems capable of firing cruise missiles at missile defense sites in Europe. It also deems U.S. drones and target missiles designed for testing missile defense systems to be a breach of the INF Treaty.