Gorbachev urges Russian, US presidents to meet to discuss strategic stability issues

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MOSCOW – Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev urged the leaders of Russia and United States to hold a full-format meeting and discuss the reduction of nuclear weapons and the fostering of strategic stability.

“I am calling for the preparation and holding of a full-fledged, full-format Russian-American top-level meeting. It is absolutely abnormal that presidents of nuclear powers meet somewhere on the sidelines, and have met only once! I hope that the process of preparing a true summit is ongoing all the same,” Gorbachev wrote in his article published on the Rossiyskaya Gazeta website on Oct. 11.

Such a meeting should focus on the problems of reducing nuclear weapons and forging strategic stability, he said.

“If a system of limiting nuclear weapons falls; and this is precisely what the INF Treaty collapse may lead to, the consequences will be catastrophic. What is more, they will be direct and indirect,” Gorbachev said.

He recalled that the 30th anniversary of signing the U.S.-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles (INF Treaty) will be marked in December 2017. Today, both parties have some claims against each other, accusations of treaty breaches and circumvention of its key provisions are being voiced, he said.

“Being an outside party, lacking the whole array of information, it is difficult to deal with all these accusations. But it is clear, that this problem has not only a technical, but also a political aspect. And it is politics that should say its word now. Therefore, I appeal to the presidents of Russia and the United States,” the ex-president of the USSR wrote.

The two countries’ relations are in an acute crisis, to which a settlement should be sought via a dialogue based on mutual respect, he said.

“This is quite a difficult path. A lot of mutual claims have been amassed. But our dialogue with the U.S. was quite difficult three decades ago, too. It had some rivals, ill-wishers, who sought to mislead us. The political will of the two countries’ leaders eventually played a crucial role. This is what’s needed now. Citizens of our countries and people throughout the world are expecting this from the presidents of Russia and the U.S.,” he said.

If one succeeds in saving the INF Treaty, it will be a powerful signal for the whole world that the largest nuclear powers understand their responsibility, treat their obligations seriously, Gorbachev said.

“Everybody will feel calmer and relations between Russia and the U.S. will finally get off the ground. I am convinced that it is quite a feasible task to prepare a statement from the two presidents on their adherence to the INF Treaty for a summit. At the same time, one could discuss and settle technical problems, which cause concern for both sides,” he said.

To this end, one could resume the joint control commission’s operation as part of the Treaty, Gorbachev said. “I am convinced that having received an ‘impetus’ from the two presidents, the military and diplomats will be able to come to terms,” he said.

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