Russia will not deploy new missiles as long as the United States shows similar restraint in Europe and Asia, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on August 18, reacting upon Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.
Washington announced the decision to formally leave the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia earlier this month after accusing Moscow of violating the Soviet-era treaty and deploying one banned type of missile, allegations the Kremlin has firmly denied.
Subsequently Russia has also left the INF, but Shoigu explained it had no plans to deploy new missiles.
“We still stick to that. Unless there are such systems in Europe (deployed by Washington), we won’t do anything there,” he told the Rossiya-24 TV channel, according to Interfax news agency.
The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
The visit of Libyan National Army Commander Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar at board of Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier reportedly to discuss the anti-terrorist strategy, stirred a whirlwind of comments concerning the future political reconstruction of Libya. The move interpreted by many experts as a sign of Kremlin’s definite choice to support Haftar as a future leader of the reconciled country.
Reportedly during this week visit of the Russia aircraft carrier (10/01/2017) Haftar discussed with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu the ‘urgent issues’ of ongoing struggle against terrorism in Libya and Middle East. The Russian Defence ministry issued a short statement without revealing of further details.
However the publicity surrounding the move stands for decisive step from Russian side to throw their support to a player they consider the most successful and capable in the post-Gaddafi fragmented Libya.
The late visit continued a series of encounters between Russian government and Libyan Marshal, who already travelled to Moscow to meet foreign minister Lavrov, requesting help in fighting Islamists.
Marshal Haftar diplomatic activity engaging also France, Egypt and Arab Emirates at his side complimented his military success, has elevated him to highest ranks among political figures to lead the nation, becoming an architect of reconciled and stable Libya.
At present the National unity, or National Accord government based in Tripoli and backed by the UN, is torn by internal struggle for influence and overall legitimacy. While the field general Kahlifa Haftar firmly established his power in the Eastern provinces (historical Cyrenaica), backing Tobruk parliament – House of representatives, refusing to accept the power of Tripoli establishment in the Parliament’s vote.
The Italian government hurried to reopened Embassy in Tripoli this week to context the growing Russian influence in the region.