Russia ready for hypersonic missile talks with the US, Lavrov says

Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov, Washington, 12 December 2019

Russia is ready to discuss hypersonic missiles and other arms control issues with the US as part of wider discussions about strategic stability, news wires reported, citing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He said on Tuesday he wanted to speak to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again after receiving a call from him a couple of days ago during which he said Pompeo touched on resuming talks on arms control and strategic stability.

"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 emphasise this especially, taking into account all aspects and factors that influence strategic stability, without exception."

Cold War-era arms control agreements have been in jeopardy as Russia's relations with the West have soured in recent years. In August 2019, the United States pulled out of a landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), citing Russian non-compliance.

Both countries are developing hypersonic missiles to expand their defence capabilities, with Russian President Vladimir Putin overseeing a test in Crimea in early January. Such missiles, which fly several times the speed of sound and can be steered in flight, are harder to stop than other generations of weapons. Some experts fear their deployment could trigger a new nuclear arms race.

Moscow has taken steps to mend ties with the West since the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters pointed out. Russia has flown medical supplies and equipment to the US and Italy to help them fight the epidemic. Lavrov said Moscow was prepared to fly over more supplies should Washington request them.

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