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Russia welcomes China's possible involvement in multilateral talks on arms

26 November 2020

MINSK – Russia will not argue against the participation of the People's Republic of China in multilateral talks on arms if Beijing agrees to it. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov made the statement after a joint meeting of the collegiums of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian one on 26 November, BelTA has learned.

The official said: “It is an old story. Trump's administration was once hell-bent, there is no other word for it, on getting the People's Republic of China involved in negotiations on disarmament. They initially said it is necessary for the People's Republic of China to become party to the Russian-American bilateral treaty on strategic offensive weapons, which is still in effect, although it is impossible by definition. Then they started speaking in favor of creating a new treaty and not extending this one because it is outdated already, because it is a bilateral one while they would like to take a step towards multilateral disarmament and arms control. Their stance evolved chaotically. In the end they came up with a proposal to extend the treaty for one year provided we recount each other's warheads and introduce watch at guard posts of defense industry enterprises.”

Sergey Lavrov believes: “It is unprofessional and unserious to count warheads while ignoring delivery vehicles, ignoring the new technologies that directly affect strategic stability.”

The official continued: “We sent the relevant proposal on how we would like to structure the future dialogue on arms control and non-proliferation to American colleagues quite a long time ago, in early 2020. They insisted on talking about warheads only and that's it. They've been interested in Russian tactical nuclear weapons for a long time. This is why they are so interested in warheads while ignoring essentially everything else.”

“We told them we are ready to talk about strategic nuclear weapons, including warheads, naturally when Americans have removed their tactical weapons from foreign countries. Such weapons are kept in five European NATO member states. NATO bodies arrange exercises and involve military personnel from non-nuclear countries, exercises on how to handle nuclear weapons. It is a blatant violation of the non-proliferation treaty,” the Russian minister of foreign affairs said.

Speaking about China, Sergey Lavrov stated that President of Russia Vladimir Putin had repeatedly said that Russia would not oppose it but it was up to the People's Republic of China to decide. “If China is not going to get involved in Russia-USA talks as it has been stated repeatedly since the country's nuclear arsenal is way smaller than those of Moscow and Washington, we respect this stance,” the official said. “We will not argue against it if and when Americans convince China to join the multilateral talks. We are ready to participate in such talks if the People's Republic of China voluntarily agrees to it. But we are certainly not going to persuade China to do it on behalf of Americans.”

The official also stressed: “But if and when a multilateral format in disarmament talks, in talks on arms control is established, certainly we will insist on getting France and the UK involved in it. When we told Americans about it, they started waving arms and saying those countries are allies of theirs and they vouched for them. Because they are the USA's allies, we would like to see them at the negotiation table if the negotiations become multilateral. Because an absolutely hostile stance towards Russia in Washington's policy documents cannot but make one question motives of Washington's allies, including in Europe and Asia. If they sign a military union with a country that declares us a hostile state, we should certainly make conclusions concerning these allies as well.”

Sergey Lavrov stated that the Trump administration is in charge now. “I don't see how one can seriously negotiate anything regarding the future arms control process. We don't know what the next administration in the White House will be, what policies it will have. The official results [of the presidential election] have not been declared over there yet. But there is already an understanding and the process of familiarization with papers has already begun. We'll see what evaluations will form in the end in heads of those, who will shape the policy of the United States towards strategic stability on 21 January [2021],” the official concluded.

BelTA

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