Lavrov denied that the U.S. had evidence of Russia’s violation of the IRNFT

The START Treaty should be extended and made a “safety net” for Russia and the United States, the Minister believes.

The U.S. has no evidence of Russia’s violation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium and Short Range Missiles (IRNFT), and Moscow has consistently advocated the extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START or START-3), even if other countries join that treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“There is not a single fact that justifies the U.S. accusations that the 9M729 missile was tested at the range prohibited by the IRNFT. The U.S., with its satellite imagery capabilities, could show at least one image to confirm their correctness and thus disprove the Russian arguments. But they have no proof that Russia has violated the treaty”, –  Lavrov said in an interview published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Monday.

He recalled that “the Americans refused to attend the demonstration of the new cruise missile, which was held by the Russian Defense Ministry together with the Russian Foreign Ministry in January last year, forbidding the rest of NATO citizens to attend the event.

“(Representatives of the U.S.) called all this “a show and staging. But this is not how serious business is done. If you want to prove it’s a “show and play”, come and prove it. There was also an opportunity to ask questions, make comments. For two hours the Russian representatives held a briefing, answered questions. But from NATO representatives only Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks came to the presentation. And yet they do not have the kind of expertise that the Americans have. The presence of American experts at the presentation would have allowed them to figure out for themselves what they are dealing with”, –  the Russian Foreign Minister said.

He also noted that “the Americans are constantly imposing the issue of China joining the discussion of both medium- and shorter-range missiles and START”, while “there are repeated public statements of Beijing that it will not join such negotiations, because China has a fundamentally different structure of nuclear forces than Russia and the United States”.

“If China suddenly changes its opinion, we will also participate in multilateral negotiations. But we will not persuade Beijing”, –  said Lavrov.

“We believe that it makes sense to extend the START-3 Treaty, which expires in a year. After February 5, 2021 this agreement will no longer exist if it is not extended. Even if there is a multilateral process, it will be very long – there are no negotiations on such a serious topic that would end in a few months”, –  he added.

Therefore, according to the minister, “a safety net in the form of an extended START-3 should be in place even from the point of view of the political reputation of Russia and the United States, so that no one would accuse us of the collapse of a legally binding instrument in the sphere of strategic stability.

“We are ready to participate in negotiations on further reductions and limitations of nuclear weapons in any configuration. We consider it absolutely obligatory to extend the START-3 Treaty in order to preserve some basis for our subsequent conversations and practical actions”, –  concluded Lavrov.

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