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Putin Makes Bold Proposal to U.S. and NATO on Medium-Range Missiles in Europe

Oct. 27, 2020 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin offered another bold proposal, yesterday, offering to refrain from deploying 9M729 cruise missiles—the very missile that the U.S. used as the excuse to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty—in European Russia, on the condition of reciprocal steps by the NATO countries. In a statement published on the Kremlin website, Putin reaffirmed the Russian view that the U.S. pullout from the treaty “a serious mistake, which increases the risks of triggering a missile arms race, rise of confrontational potential and sliding into an uncontrolled escalation.” He continued: “Under these circumstances, active efforts are required to reduce the deficit of trust and to strengthen regional and global stability, as well as to lower the risks arising from misunderstandings and disagreements in the missile sphere.”

Therefore, “In this context, we reiterate our commitment to the moratorium earlier declared by the Russian Federation on the deployment of ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles until U.S.-manufactured missiles of similar classes appear in the respective regions,” Putin said. “We also believe that our call to NATO countries to consider the possibility of declaring a reciprocal moratorium remains relevant.”

Putin proposed verification measures to include Russian inspection of the Mk-41 vertical launchers installed at the NATO Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense sites in Poland and Romania to ensure that they cannot be used to fire Tomahawk missiles in return for the NATO inspection the 9M729 missile deployments at Russian military facilities in the Kaliningrad Region, a Baltic exclave of Russia, between Lithuania and Poland.

“Staying committed to its consistent stance that the 9M729 missile fully complies with the provisions of the former INF Treaty, the Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of goodwill, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European part of the territory of Russia, but only provided that NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment in Europe of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty,”

Putin concluded. “We also call on all the parties concerned to search for patterns of maintaining stability and preventing missile crises ‘in a post-INF world’ regarding the Asia-Pacific region. We are open to pursuing joint work in this direction.”

There is, as yet, no official response from the U.S. to Putin’s proposal. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, in an op-ed in RT, also yesterday, says there’s little chance of the U.S. accepting it because of the low level of trust between the U.S./NATO on one side and Moscow on the other. But in any case, Ritter argues that the key to understanding Putin’s proposal lies in the last sentence of his statement referring to the Asia-Pacific region, which the Pentagon’s near term plans are focused on. “Putin appears to recognize the reality that there cannot be meaningful U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control without factoring in China,” Ritter writes. Ritter sees Putin’s proposal “not as a quick fix to a limited problem, but rather the opening gambit toward a solution to the larger problem of controlling the strategic nuclear forces of Russia, China and the U.S.”

China’s Xinhua covered Putin’s statement in a wire yesterday, but made no mention of the Asia-Pacific focus at the end of it.

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