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Russia may end its self-declared moratorium on the deployment of its ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles, according to Vladimir Ermakov, the Russian foreign ministry’s head of nuclear nonproliferation.
Ermakov told state-owned media agency TASS in an interview on Tuesday that Russia will only continue to adhere to its moratorium depending on the range of US missiles deployed, their characteristics and their ability to reach the Asia-Pacific region.
“In particular, the readiness of Russia to continue adhering to the unilateral moratorium on the deployment of ground-based medium-range and shorter-range missiles in certain regions will fundamentally depend on the specific parameters of [US] missiles’ range,” Ermakov said.
“But even now we can say with confidence that the destabilizing military programs of the United States and its allies are making our moratorium more and more fragile, both in the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe,” he said.
Some background: The United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia in 2019.
The agreement, signed in 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, limited both nations from fielding both “short range” and “intermediate range” land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and missile launchers that could be used to carry either nuclear or conventional payloads.
Then-US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the 2019 withdrawal was “a direct result of Russia’s sustained and repeated violations of the treaty over many years and multiple presidential administrations.”
As a result of the US decision, Russia also announced its withdrawal from the accord.
But Russia claimed it would continue a moratorium on the deployment of such weapons. At the time, Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said:
“We invited the US and other NATO countries to assess the possibility of declaring the same moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range equipment as we have, the same moratorium Vladimir Putin declared, saying that Russia will refrain from deploying these systems when we acquire them unless the American equipment is deployed in certain regions.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed Russia’s offer of a moratorium as “not credible,” because he said Russia had been deploying such missiles for years.
Remember: In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was suspending his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which put limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia could have.