Germany’s foreign minister on Friday urged Russia to save a key arms treaty with the U.S., to prevent a new arms race as a deadline looms.
U.S. President Donald Trump last year announced that the U.S. is going to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because of Russian violations. The United States has said it will exit the treaty in early February if Russia does not end its violations.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is visiting Moscow on Friday, called on Russia to destroy the type of missile that the U.S. alleges is in violation of the treaty, saying that he doesn’t think that “anyone in Europe would like to see the beginning of a new arms race.”
The 1987 treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union bans production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,400 miles).
Germany and other European countries are worried about the impending collapse of the treaty because Europe is where the U.S. is likely to deploy the intermediate-range missiles, and Russia has said it would have to respond by targeting the countries where the missiles are based.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday insisted that Russia never violated the treaty, and said U.S. officials have told them that their decision is final and not negotiable.
“We have always wanted to keep the treaty in place,” Lavrov told reporters after the talks with Maas. “They (the U.S.) told us during talks in October: ‘President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is pulling out of the INF treaty is a done deal, and it should not be considered as an invitation to dialogue.'”