DEFENCE DIPLOMACY

ForMin Melescanu: Deveselu shield, strictly defensive; Russia seeking excuses not to comply with INF treaty

Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on Thursday said the ballistic missile shield at Deveselu is a strictly defensive military structure, explaining that his remarks come in relation to the Russian Defence Ministry having asked the US to destroy the Mk-41 launching system in the composition of the Deveselu shield, on the grounds that it would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

“Everybody knows very well, and we have always said that the Deveselu base is a purely defensive military structure that is used against ballistic missiles and that has no nuclear charge, it is about rockets that simply work as a result of conventional fuel explosions (…) There is absolutely nothing, no argument as to the possibility that the base might create problems for the Russian Federation. It is strictly for defence in case of a missile attack, wherever it originates,” Melescanu told Antena 3 private broadcaster in a call in.

In his opinion, the Russian Federation is attempting to justify its own arming policy through such actions.

“From my point of view, it is one of the ways in which the Russian Federation, amidst discussions about it not complying with the provisions of the INF treaty that regards intermediate nuclear weapons, seeks arguments and themes to justify its (…) production of hypersonic missiles that create a real danger, and I do not mean Romania alone. Their range of action stretches to Germany, Central Europe (…) It is simply an operation that seeks to find arguments for what it decides to do,” said Melescanu.

He added that he would consult with his NATO counterparts to put forth a common NATO position on this issue.

“Without any doubt, tomorrow (…) we will also consult with our allies. Indeed, the Deveselu facility is one of the pillars of the missile defence at NATO level, and it will be replicated with certain installations in Poland by using ships that have the same capacity. So, it is simply defence we have at the level of NATO and toward which Romania also participates as a member of the alliance. Obviously, these are things that will have to (…) be clearly stated and I am convinced that they will be supported by all NATO member states,” Melescanu said.

Asked whether he intends to summon Russian ambassador to Bucharest Valery Kuzmin the minister replied: “We will also consider the possibility of a dialogue and ask for clarification, because this type of communication (…) is very often difficult to understand.”

The Russian Defense Ministry suggested the US on Thursday to destroy their Mk-41 missile launchers in the composition of the Romanian ballistic missile defence systems that would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konasenkov, is quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed in Washington on December 8, 1987, by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former US President Ronald Reagan, bans Russia and the US from using missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km. The withdrawal of the two signatories will officially enter into force in the next six months.

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