Russia ready for dialogue on withdrawing nuclear arsenal

Responding to calls to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from Russia’s EU border, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is open for dialogue on the issue, but it should be direct and not through the mass media.

Earlier, the foreign ministers of Poland and Sweden, Radoslav Sikorsky and Carl Bildt respectively, published an article in the New York Times where they urged Moscow to remove its nuclear weapons from the Kaliningrad Region and the Kola Peninsula. In their initiative, they have also requested that the US removes its nuclear warheads from European territory.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Moscow has been calling on other countries to make a move in this direction and to remove all tactical weapons to the countries that own them. “We have not been able to persuade our partners to at least start discussing this issue,” Lavrov told a news conference after a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store.

Lavrov, however, has stressed that Russia will only discuss this issue directly: “If they decided to voice this idea not during direct contacts with us, but through newspaper articles, they probably pursued some goal that does not quite match the efforts to sort out this issue.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the head of the State Duma Committee for International Relations Konstantin Kosachev said that Moscow’s initiative to create an international agreement on European security has been ignored by both Poland and Sweden.

He also added that the Swedish-Polish initiative will only be given the green light when security in Europe will be collective, integrated and indivisible: “Until all the forces of ensuring European Security will be united, only nuclear weapons will be able to sustain the global strategic security balance of the continent. And in this regard, the decision on the quantity and the geographical location of nuclear arms will remain between the two nuclear powers: Russia and the US – whether the third parties like that or not.”

Many analysts think, however, that the timing of the Polish-Swedish initiative is not accidental, as it coincides with the new round of US-Russia talks in Geneva concerning a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

However, Vladimir Yevseyev from the Center of International Security in Moscow thinks that neither Sweden nor Poland expected an immediate action on their initiative:

“Tactical nuclear arms withdrawal from European territories is not the most topical issue at the moment. As for Sweden, even though it’s not a NATO member, it’s really difficult to imagine that it will ever be attacked by either Russia or the US. Sweden came up with this initiative as it is more worried about the environmental damage that such arms may cause. As for Poland, it just used this moment to distract attention from the expansion of its own arms.”


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Earlier, Moscow expressed concerns about Poland’s plans to deploy American antiaircraft Patriot missiles close to its border with Russia, just 100 kilometers from the Kaliningrad region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has asked Warsaw for an explanation, as such an act is seen by the Kremlin as Poland increasing its military arsenal against Russia.

Viktor Litovkin, Editor-in-Chief of the “Independent Military Review” thinks, Poland used this initiative as another opportunity to cast another stone towards Russia: “This is very typical of Poland. You know this Russophobia is their historical illness, and there is really no cure for that.”

However, the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine “Russia in Global Politics” Fyodor Lukyanov thinks that such initiative has been coordinated with the US. In an interview to Russian radio station Echo Moskvy, he said that the current US-Russia talks are only about strategic nuclear weapons, which are not stored in Europe by Russia. The US however has long wanted to include tactical warheads in the dialogue and this was an indirect way of pointing at this issue. He says that – since Barack Obama is organizing a so-called nuclear summit in April this year, and then in May there will be a conference on nuclear non proliferation – Obama wants (and needs) to come up with some important initiatives in this sphere.

Olga Masalkova, RT

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