Munich, Germany – Just out of a milestone nuclear missile accord, the United States is about to deploy short – and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia, prompting Moscow to engage France and other European and Asian partners to preserve security on both continents.
“In order to agree on specific solutions, we need multilateral talks and multilateral consultations involving, of course, the United States, who destroyed the treaty,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, RT reported.
This pact saw Washington and Moscow eliminate entire classes of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers capable of carrying nukes back in the 1980s.
“Now, they are actively creating the prerequisites for the deployment of these previously banned weapons in Europe, and indeed in Asia, they don’t hide it,” he said.
Japan, South Korea and some “Pacific islands” are the likeliest locations for these deployments, Lavrov noted. Meanwhile, the minister, who unexpectedly met with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo at the Munich Security Conference, said he felt “certain shifts” in how the US approaches arms control now.
“We discussed a number of issues relating to the whole range of problems that are on the agenda of our strategic dialogue, including those that are within the competence of the five permanent members [of the UN Security Council], and those relating to arms control issues,” he revealed.
Lavrov and Pompeo have agreed “to continue the pointed professional conversation on it”. But until US-Russia relations thaw, Moscow will reach out to other partners in Europe concerned about the fate of the INF.
“Of course, we will talk about this with the French,” the foreign minister added.
France seems to be particularly responsive to Russia’s concerns. This month, French President Emmanuel Macron insisted the Europeans cannot sit idle as they “could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil”.