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Alexey Chepa: “We reserve the right to return to the INF”

Russia reserves the right at any time to return to the implementation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF), despite the draft law on suspension of the agreement. This was reported to Izvestia in the State Duma. According to experts, the document introduced by Vladimir Putin is a signal to the international community that Moscow is ready to maintain the status quo, but intends to fully ensure its security, responding mirror-like to Washington’s actions. Meanwhile, the United States has already begun to develop previously banned types of weapons.

Washington and Moscow in recent years have accused each other of violating the provisions of the INF Treaty with enviable periodicity. However, for the first time, the truly serious threat of the collapse of the treaty hung in October 2018. Then, US President Donald Trump announced that the States were going to withdraw from the agreement, since Russia “has been violating it for many years.” In fact, the treaty ceased to operate in February 2019, when the United States announced the suspension of the implementation of its provisions, and the next day Russia announced similar plans. In March, Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the suspension of the implementation of the INF. Now this decision has been submitted in the form of a bill to the State Duma, which should consider it in the first reading on June 18.

The document prescribes the freezing of the INF Treaty and fully hands over to the President of the country further decisions on the renewal of the treaty. As explained to Izvestia by the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Aleksei Chepa, this is a mirror measure for the withdrawal of the Americans from the agreement.

– We were not the initiators of this. But we reserve the right to return to the contract if the second party accepts this. Americans, unfortunately, are interested in fueling the situation in Europe so that NATO countries spend more money on military spending, the deputy told Izvestia. – In addition, in the US there is a powerful lobby on the part of individual companies and politicians. They want to take advantage of the suspension of the contract and start producing weapons, mastering additional finances. This can increase tensions on the world stage.

Against the background of the termination of the INF Treaty, a strong split can be expected among NATO member countries, Aleksey Chepa believes. According to him, the US is interested in deploying its weapons on the territory of the European allies. States that zealously support US foreign policy, such as Poland and the Baltic countries, may well agree with the deployment of American weapons on their territory. The rest of Europe will surely take a more balanced position and are unlikely to agree to become an “American bridgehead,” the Russian parliamentarian is confident.

Russia’s position in any case lies in the fact that it will abide by the provisions of the treaty as long as the status quo is maintained, explained Yury Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Moscow State University, to Izvestia.

– In the event of changes, a plan is needed B. The treaty was ratified by the parliament in due time, and the new law allows the president to decide for himself what steps to take if necessary. This is a signal, first of all, for Europe. If the United States decides to place such missiles on the continent, then Europe will be vulnerable, the political scientist said.

He also recalled: Donald Trump did not conceal that the main goal of the collapse of the former INF Treaty was to join the negotiations on the control of similar weapons by China and other global players in the future.

At the same time, countries may well return to the INF Treaty, if that is the political will of the leaders. As Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Military-Political Analysis at the Hudson Institute, told Izvestiya, although in its current form the agreement “seems to be buried”, Moscow and Washington are generally able to develop a new version of the agreement, which may also include other global players. Given that both Putin and Donald Trump are supposed to be at the G20 summit in Osaka in June, the leaders will likely be able to negotiate. In this case, the topic of international security will be one of the key during the meeting.

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