Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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The growing threat of an arms race between the USA and Russia is gaining momentum

On February 1, Michael Pompeo announced that from February 2, the United States will terminate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) signed between Russia (USSR) and the United States in 1987. Michael Pompeo said that Russia "substantially" violates the terms of the INF Treaty." "Russia's violation (of the Treaty-ed.) has endangered the lives of millions of Europeans and Americans... It is our duty to respond properly," Pompeo said. The Treaty has been suspended, but not terminated. Russia has six months to stop break the treaty. NATO countries called on Moscow to take advantage of this time and prevent the termination of the Treaty. NATO members declare that NATO will take any "steps necessary to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of NATO's overall deterrence and defence policy." If Moscow fail to destroy all the new missile systems that violate the Treaty according to Washington, then "Russia will be personally responsible for the termination of the Treaty."

In October last year, President Donald Trump said that he plans to abandon the Treaty because of Russia's failure to fulfill its obligations. The Treaty was signed in 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan and leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Washington claims that Moscow violated the INF Treaty by creating and deploying the 9M729 missile system. According to a source in the United States Department, the US recently informed its Western allies that Russia has already deployed four divisions armed with a 9M729 cruise missile. Now Russia has 100 such missiles. On December 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Russia 60 days to return to compliance with the Treaty, setting a deadline of February 2 after which the US will abandon its obligations under the Treaty if Russia won't return its compliance.[1]

The termination of the Treaty, which marked the beginning of the global process of nuclear weapons reduction, could mean the start of a new stage of militarization feared by many world leaders, media and specialized experts. Those who followed the arms race of the 1980s should feel deja vu, the Washington Post states - "again watching countries respond to the deployment of enemy military forces by similar steps in a futile effort to scare or defeat them [in the race]." "And now it is not just a race of two nations. Some believe that the real impact of the withdrawal from the INF Treaty for the United States will be that it will allow the United States to deploy its missiles against Chinese medium- and short-range missiles, even if we already have many ways to hit their [Chinese missile] systems and a much larger number of nuclear weapons," the American publication points out.

European leaders are also talking about the risk of a new arms race. "The declining trend in cooperation in the field of disarmament has to be stopped and new ways [of a compromise] must be found, - Margot Wallstrom, Minister for foreign Affairs of Sweden wrote in her Twitter, in response to the withdrawal of the US and Russia from a historical Treaty. "What we definitely don't want to see is how our continent is once again becoming a battlefield or a place of confrontation between other superpowers," said Federika Mogerini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. - All this refers to a long past history." Her colleague from Germany, Heiko Maas, the country's Foreign Minister, earlier also called for preventing the militarization of Europe. "Even if we cannot save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that does not mean that we must allow a new arms race. The security of Europe will not increase if we will be placed even more nuclear warheads, " - said Maas.[2]

"It definitely would mean a new round of the arms race, and we have problems in the economic and technological potential in this regard. I would like to remind that the USSR collapsed in particular that could not win the arms race. I do not think that for Russia it will now be easier than it was for the Soviet Union," said in a comments to OBOZREVATEL Russian opposition leader Leonid Gozman. The fact that the arms race is inevitable, says Russian journalist Alexander Ryklin, however, he believes that there are prerequisites for the collapse even without this race in Russia. "Today, there are a lot of factors that can lead to the collapse of the Russian Federation, except for the arms race, which we, of course, will not withstand. But I would not say that this race will cause the collapse. It seems to me that much more important is the inability of Russia to conduct an adequate economic policy, which today depends on politics. Today, Russia's economic problems will not be solved by any economic instruments, they simply do not exist," he said.[3]

Deputy Director for International Affairs of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies Mikhail Samus during a press conference on the topic: "The New Cold War" said that the abolition of the INF Treaty will benefit Ukraine, as it will allow without restrictions to develop and produce missile weapons designed to deter the aggressor. Does Russia ready for a new "hybrid" offensive in Europe?", Ukrinform correspondent reports. "The termination of this Treaty is positive for Ukraine, as it will now be able to produce missile weapons without the restrictions that existed in the world until that time. The Ukrainian Army will be able to develop and produce missiles that can deter Russian Federation," Samus said. He also noted that since the 1980s Russia has been trying to provoke a so-called "missile crisis" in Europe and create conditions for the collapse of NATO, so Ukraine should offer the United States to strengthen the missile component, using its territory.

"It is necessary to offer the US to deploy its missile forces in non-NATO countries, as it could be used by the Russian Federation to implement hybrid technologies in the sphere of information, for political corruption, and in Ukraine... We are actually in a state of war with Russia, and this will give us additional leverage to stabilize and establish and balance the situation. And for the United States, this will give the opportunity not to create additional lines of division in the Euro-Atlantic space, and at the same time to create additional instruments of containment of Russia," the expert believes.[4]

Consequently, it can be argued that a constructive dialogue between the US and Russia regarding the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty did not work and will not work. Therefore, there is a situation of expectation of an imminent arms race, which would encourage other countries to build up missile capabilities for their own protection. Thus, there is a great risk to the international security system, however, there is no question of the beginning of a direct confrontation between the two sides.