Russian envoy: No intention to deploy missiles to Belarus

Russia is not going to deploy its missiles to Belarus in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus Mikhail Babich said on Wednesday.

Such a step is ‘not necessary’, pro-Kremlin news agency TASS quotes the envoy.

“The present-day configuration of our joint army group allows us to perform all military tasks from the stations where our response forces are located without repositioning them. We (Russia and Belarus) have joint plans of the Union State’s defense and security of the Union State, so all commitments to ensure security, including for Belarus, will, of course, be honoured,” he stressed.

The INF Treaty, an arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, was signed by President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 8 December 1987. The treaty eliminated all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles and launchers with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (short medium-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range).

In October 2018, the United States announced the intention to withdraw from the treaty. According to US President Donald Trump, the reason for the pullout was ‘Russia’s violating it for many years’, which Moscow flatly denies. In turn, Russia fielded counterclaims to the United States regarding the implementation of the INF Treaty. On February 2, Washington’s obligations under the INF Treaty were suspended. The Kremlin did the same in a ‘mirror response’ to Trump’s decision. The US is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months’ time unless Russia returns to ‘real and verifiable’ compliance.

The current situation around the INF Treaty is fraught with the escalation of the conflict potential and a new spiral of the arms race, which will have serious long-term consequences for the European continent, Andrey Shuplyak, a representative of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Monday.

“Belarus calls upon the United States and Russia to again show high responsibility for the future of the world, as the USSR and the United States did 30 years ago to pre-empt the destabilizing effects of this type of weapon on security in the Eurasian region,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the MFA representative.

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