Russia says 'no progress' in settling INF Treaty disputes with U.S.
Updated 22:24, 31-Jan-2019
CGTN
01:07

Russia and the United States have made "no progress" in talks on Thursday to settle disputes over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

The impasse set the stage for the U.S. to begin pulling out of the INF Treaty as early as this Saturday unless Moscow moves to destroy a missile Washington says is violating the accord.

Russian and U.S. officials met on the sidelines of a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Beijing to discuss the fate of the INF Treaty.

"Unfortunately, there is no progress," Ryabkov said after talks with  Andrea Thompson, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. 

The U.S. government will likely announce the suspension of its obligations under the INF Treaty with Russia in coming days after bilateral talks failed to make headway, Thompson told Reuters.

"The Russians still aren't in acknowledgement that they are in violation of the treaty," Thompson told Reuters in an interview. She added, however, that "diplomacy is never done" and she anticipated more discussions.

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The U.S. has warned that it will begin a six-month withdrawal process from the treaty on February 2 unless Russia destroys its 9M729 ground-based missile system, which it says breaches the Cold War-era agreement. 

Ryabkov called the U.S. position "rather tough, ultimatum-like" and "destructive," state news agency RIA Novosti reported.  

"We have not made any progress. We state this not just with sorrow, but with a deep concern for the fate of the treaty, for the fate of European and international security," Ryabkov said. 

Last week the Russian military displayed the 9M729 missile system to the media and foreign military officials in an attempt to prove the weapon does not violate the treaty. Russia says the missile's maximum range is 480 kilometers (300 miles) and within the allowed range. 

A briefing for military attaches and international media by the Russian Defense Ministry at the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in Kubinka, Moscow Region, on the 9M729 missile system, in Moscow, January 23. /VCG Photo

A briefing for military attaches and international media by the Russian Defense Ministry at the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in Kubinka, Moscow Region, on the 9M729 missile system, in Moscow, January 23. /VCG Photo

Washington has, however, said a static display of the cruise missile does not prove its range does not breach the agreement. Signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. It ended a dangerous build-up of warheads in Europe but there are fears a similar situation could re-emerge. 

U.S. officials have said that if Russia misses the February 2 deadline, the Pentagon will begin work on its own missile system that would otherwise be barred by the treaty. Russia has said that because Washington's claims are unsubstantiated the agreement would remain in force even if the U.S. tries to withdraw.

(Cover: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov (L) greets U.S. delegation head Under-Secretary of State Andrea Thompson (C) and U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament Robert Wood (R) at a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) conference in Beijing, China, January 30, 2019. /Reuters Photo)

Source(s): AFP