Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday that Moscow suspects NATO might deploy missiles in Europe that were previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and said Russia would respond by doing the same.
Ryabkov said there were “indirect indications” that NATO was thinking of deploying INF missiles. The military alliance has denied the accusation in the past, but Ryabkov said Russia has a “complete lack of trust” in NATO.
In 2019, the US withdrew from the INF, citing alleged Russian violations, although the Trump administration put no effort into discussing the issue with Moscow. The treaty was first signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987 and banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500 km (310 to 3,410 miles).
Since the treaty was scrapped, Russia has been offering the US a mutual moratorium on the deployment of INF missiles to Europe. Ryabkov said Russia has asked for the moratorium as part of a package of security guarantees it is seeking from the West.
Last week, President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks on the issues surrounding Ukraine. Putin said Russia would continue dialogue with the US and would be submitting proposals for security guarantees soon.
Besides the INF moratorium, Russia wants NATO to guarantee that Ukraine will not become a member of the military alliance. US officials have reportedly told Ukraine that a NATO membership is unlikely to be approved within the next decade.