Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia is ready to discuss the development of hypersonic missiles and other arms control matters with the U.S.
Lavrov signaled Russia’s willingness for the arms control talks days after a call between him and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Reuters reported. Lavrov described the talks in the context of wider concerns about strategic stability, and ongoing moves by both the U.S. and Russia away from Cold War-era arms control agreements.
“We welcome such interest from our American partners because we have encouraged them to address these problems more actively for a long time,” Lavrov said. “We are open to talks about new promising developments, including hypersonic weapons in the context of, and I emphasize this especially, taking into account all aspects and factors that influence strategic stability, without exception.”
Both the U.S. and Russia have been developing hypersonic missiles capable of flying at several times the speed of sound and maneuvering in flight to avoid missile countermeasures.
The U.S. pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) back in February 2019 citing claims Russia had not complied with the agreement. In August, the Pentagon confirmed the test of a ground-launched missile platform that exceeded the range limits imposed in the former INF treaty. The INF Treaty specified intermediate-range missiles as those capable of flying between 500 and 5,500 kilometers in distance.
In November, Lavrov denied the U.S. had any proof Russia had violated the treaty though Russia had reciprocated the U.S. and also withdrew from the INF treaty.
Lavrov’s latest remarks have come amid some recent U.S. and Russian efforts to mend ties during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Russia recently sent a planeload of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to the U.S. to assist in the ongoing fight against the virus outbreak. Lavrov has said Russia is prepared to fly over even more supplies as needed.
Other more aggressive acts by Russia have also bookended Lavrov’s latest calls for renewed arms control talks.
On Wednesday, Russia tested a missile capable of knocking out satellites in low Earth orbit drawing a response from the newly formed U.S. Space Force. Russian spy planes have also been intercepted flying towards U.S. airspace in recent weeks. In another Wednesday incident, a Russian fighter jet flew an inverted maneuver within 25 feet of a U.S. Navy plane as it flew in international airspace above the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian fighter jet reportedly flew so close that the U.S. aircraft experienced wake turbulence from the jet’s engines.