Russia appeals to Europeans to heed U.S. INF exit, warns of new arms race
Russia's deputy envoy to the United Nations (UN) on Thursday appealed to European countries to heed U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War arms control treaty and warned of a possible new arms race.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's acting permanent representative to the United Nations [File photo: Pacific Press via IC/Lev Radin]
At a UN Security Council meeting, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's acting permanent representative to the UN, called on the Europeans to take actions to prevent the deployment of U.S. intermediate-range missiles on their continent.
After exiting from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on Aug. 2, the United States recently conducted a flight test of a ground-launched cruise missile, which the treaty would have prohibited.
Recalling Russia's failed push last year at the UN to support the INF Treaty, Polyanskiy said "we are very surprised by the position that is being stubbornly taken by our European colleagues."
"Are you happy today that in December you preferred to press the red button? Do you really not understand that you are returning to a situation where missiles are targeting European cities from different sides?" asked Polyanskiy.
He warned that the demise of the INF Treaty would not just undermine parts of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but would also lead to a new arms race.
"We are all one step from an arms race that could not be controlled or regulated in any way" because of the U.S. geopolitical ambitions, Polyanskiy told his European peers.
Meanwhile, the Russian envoy contrasted the military budget of his country to those of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), saying their military expenditure could have been contributing to sustainable development and helping people in developing countries.
Returning to arms control, Polyanskiy said he hopes that "common sense and an instinct of self-defense" will "win out among our western partners."
"What's at stake here is the very existence of humanity," he said.
Thursday's meeting focused on the recent intermediate-range cruise missile test conducted by the United States. The meeting was requested by China and Russia, citing the destabilizing effects of the test.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had expressed similar concerns at a press conference following talks in Helsinki with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.
"We are disappointed with what we see," Putin said, referring to the U.S. cruise missile test.
"Launches of this missile can be carried out from (launch) systems already located in Romania and Poland. All you have to do is change the software. And I don't think our American partners will inform even the European Union about this," Putin said.
The U.S. move "aggravates the global security situation in general and in Europe in particular," he said.
"We certainly need a dialogue on these issues ... We have already made proposals to start this dialogue. We are ready to discuss this object with the Europeans, with the Americans," he added.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Monday that it had conducted a flight test of a ground-launched cruise missile, which hit its intended target after traveling for more than 500 km.
It is the first time that the United States has conducted an intermediate-range cruise missile test since formally withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which prohibited possessing, developing and testing ground-launched missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km.
The United States and former Soviet Union signed the treaty in 1987 and ratified it the following year. In recent years, Moscow and Washington have accused each other of violating the treaty amid increasing tensions.
In early February, the United States announced that it would suspend its treaty obligations and withdraw from the treaty in six months if Russia failed to adhere to treaty provisions. In response, Putin decided to suspend Russia's participation in the treaty in February.