Russia on Sunday warned the US President Donald Trump that his plan to pull out of the cold war-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia would be a dangerous step.
“This would be a very dangerous step, which, I’m sure, won’t be just understood by the international community, but arouse serious condemnation of all members of the world community, who are committed to security and stability and are ready to work on strengthening the current regimes in arms control,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to state-run news agency Tass.
He went on to say the Kremlin condemns Washington’s “attempts to achieve Russia’s concessions through blackmail, moreover in such an issue which has importance for international security and security in the nuclear weapons sphere, for maintaining strategic stability.”
President Trump announced on Saturday that he plans to scuttle the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East.
The agreement prohibited the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.
Trump said Moscow has not been adhering to the pact.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” Trump said Saturday after a rally in Nevada. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”
But Ryabkov said it’s Washington that has been violating the treaty.
“Therefore, these are the attempts to portray this situation as if Russia violates the treaty. But it’s not just that we do not violate it, but we strictly observe it. And we are tolerant when pointing to US blatant violations of the agreement for many years,” he said.
He insisted that Moscow observed “in the strictest way” the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, while accusing Washington of “flagrant violations.”
Trump said the accord keeps the US from developing new weapons, but will begin to do so again unless Russia and China agree not to develop the arms.
China is not part of the pact.
“We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” Trump said.
National security adviser John Bolton is expected to arrive in Moscow on Sunday to meet with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
Ryabkov said he’s looking forward to the talks.
“We hope during the contacts with him tomorrow and the day after tomorrow to hear more details and clarifications on what steps the US side is planning to take,” he said.