On 4 December 2018, the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, in which they express their unanimity with the United States of America and conclude that the Russian Federation has developed and fielded a missile system which violates the treaty, thereby not only being in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty but also posing risks to Euro-Atlantic security.
During the NATO ministerial, the US launched a statement on suspending its obligations under the treaty, unless Russia changes its conduct as concerns longstanding violations of the INF Treaty. The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the US decision. In the ministry’s opinion, the US statement aims at providing Russia with an opportunity to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty, thus preserving the treaty.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has been crucial in upholding security in the Euro-Atlantic space for over 30 years. The US and other allies in NATO support an effective arms control and stand up for compliance with international commitments concerning both the INF Treaty and other arms control instruments.
“Regrettably, regardless of repeated concerns raised by the US and its NATO allies in recent years, Russia has continued to violate the provisions of the INF Treaty. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is unanimous with its allies in NATO that the situation when the US abides by the treaty unilaterally is not sustainable and is not conducive to security in the Euro-Atlantic space,” says the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs.
Actions by Russia with regard to the INF Treaty should be put into a broader context, given Russia’s massive violations of international law in Ukraine and Georgia, its attempts to also undermine other arms control instruments, as well as its aggressive military exercises near the borders of the NATO allied states. Russia’s actions of this kind bear no evidence of the country’s wish to engage constructively in the strengthening of security in the Euro-Atlantic space; they call for a strong response that would ensure the credibility and effectiveness of NATO’s deterrence and defence posture.
Latvia calls on Russia to respond to the US efforts and engage in a constructive dialogue in order to preserve the INF Treaty and ensure its effective functioning in future.
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