Russia is ready to abandon the deployment of 9M729 missiles in its European part, provided that NATO countries take similar steps, said Russian President Vladimir Putin in a statement published by the Kremlin's press service.
According to Putin, Moscow invites "all interested parties to consider specific options for reciprocal verification measures to address existing concerns." The President noted that Russia adheres to the position that the 9M729 missile meets the requirements of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but "is ready in good faith not to undertake their deployment on the European part of the country.” As a condition for this, Putin called on NATO not to deploy weapons previously banned by the agreement in Europe.
Putin also mentioned that it would be possible to conduct checks of 9M729 missiles already stationed in the Kaliningrad region, if NATO allows similar check of Aegis Ashore systems with Mk 41 launchers at U.S. and NATO bases in Europe. "The purpose of verification measures would be to confirm the absence of ground-based intermediate and short-range missile facilities at the sites covered by the agreements," the President said.
Putin again called the US withdrawal from the INF treaty "serious mistake that increases the risks of unleashing a missile arms race and poses a threat to pan-European security."
We also call on all interested countries to search for ways to maintain stability and prevent missile crises "in a world without the INF Treaty" in relation to the Asia-Pacific region," Putin said.
The United States withdrew from the INF Treaty last August, accusing Moscow of deploying in the Kaliningrad region 9M729cruise missile,s which can be launched using the Iskander-M launchers. NATO believes that the range of this missile exceeds the limits set by previous agreements. Moscow claims that 9M729 complies with the INF treaty.
Russia, in turn, opposed the deployment of Aegis Ashore launchers in Romania, which can be equipped with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.
"The United States declares that it does not plan to equip these systems with assault weapons, but Russia cannot turn a blind eye to this possibility," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said last February.