US-Russia diplomatic controversy surrounding INF treaty requires dialogue

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Aug. 19, 2014 - PRLog -- On July 30, the US Department of State has published a worldwide arms control compliance report that included claims that Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty signed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987.

“The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” the document says.

However, the report provided no evidence of the aforementioned violations.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, also commented on the issue, urging Russia to follow the provisions of the INF treaty.

“It remains a key element of Euro-Atlantic security — one that benefits our mutual security and must be preserved,” the NATO website quotes him.

According to The New York Times, the violations were also mentioned in the letter from the US President Barack Obama to his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin.

“In his letter to Mr. Putin, Mr. Obama underscored his interest in a high-level dialogue with Moscow with the aim of preserving the 1987 treaty and discussing steps the Kremlin might take to come back into compliance,” the news agency says.

In return, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MFA) has published an official statement, in which it rejected all the raised accusations and stressed the fact that the USA has provided no evidence.

“Notably, the U.S. side, in its usual manner, provides no specific facts but rather replaced them, for some obscure reason, with a synopsis of the Treaty articles. Comments of the U.S. officials who refer to some ‘classified intelligence data’ also fail to clarify the essence of the U.S. claims,” says the text of the comments on the US Department of State report, which was published on the ministry website.

In addition to that, the statement notes that Washington itself is in breach of the INF treaty. Among other things, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its concern over the use of short-range target practice missiles and combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), as well as the plans to place the American Mark-41 missile platforms which can be used for launching intermediate-range cruiser missiles.

Above that, the MFA pointed out a number of other inconsistencies in the White House’s arms control policy, such as the decision to withdraw from the Antiballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 2001, expansion of the US ABM and conventional armaments, as well as other issues concerned with nuclear tests, outer space arms, and biological and chemical weapons.

In a reply to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the fact that NATO was not involved in the 1987 treaty.

“If the NATO Secretary General would seriously want to make a contribution to the reinforcement of the INF regime, we would recommend that he thinks about making this Treaty multilateral. Russia supported this idea many times,” says the ministry in a separate commentary.

The INF treaty violation accusations aimed at Moscow evoked massive response among the worldwide experts. One of them, Mikhail Krysin, a well-known Russian researcher of history of the Baltic States, author of numerous scientific publications and several books, recalled the circumstances in which the 1987 treaty was signed.

He noted that the INF treaty’s main objective was to further the disarmament of the USSR that followed soft policies towards the US under Mikhail Gorbachev. At the same time, Washington’s losses in military strength were much less notable.

“The main idea of the 1987 treaty was to specifically annihilate the Soviet land-based short- and intermediate-ranged missile (SIRM) potential, which was much bigger than those of SIRM in air and naval Soviet forces. For the US, the land-based SIRM component didn’t matter much in comparison to that used in the US aviation and navy,” the expert said in an interview to “PenzaNews” agency.

He added that several high-ranking Russian politicians consider the INF treaty not corresponding to the current reality.

“As early as February 10, 2007, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said this treaty facilitates the US plans to place their missile platforms in Poland and the Czech Republic. Sergei Ivanov, back then the country’s Minister of Defense, called the treaty ‘a Cold War relic,’ adding that many of the Russia’s neighbors have SIRM in their forces, and therefore it would be a logical step for Russia to have these armaments too,” the historian recalled.

In his opinion, a number of events in military and political areas were behind the claims by the US Department of State.

“The SIRM which are in service with Russia and the US are not land-based. One of the reasons behind the accusations could have been Russia’s motions throughout the last few years to expand its non-land-based SIRM potential. However, it is certain that the main cause lies in the Ukrainian issue,” the expert emphasized.

From his point of view, the claims could be a part of the current “psychological warfare” against Russia.

“After Crimea, Russia is accused of everything bad that happens in the world. It is thought that Russia is to be blamed for starting the civil war in Ukraine, for the Odessa arson which led to many deaths, for the MH17 crash, and that it is a threat to the whole Europe,” Mikhail Krysin said.

In his opinion, the US authorities refrain from withdrawing from the treaty in order to use it in a defamation campaign against Moscow, while Washington’s violations may end up hidden from the public eye.

However, the historian suggested that Russia should nevertheless remain in the 1987 treaty and invest as much effort as possible in order to resist the White House policies.

“Perhaps we too shouldn’t abandon the treaty; and in the meanwhile, use it as much as possible as a trump card in the Russia-US ‘psychological warfare,’ and at the same time expand our air and naval SIRM potential like the US does,” Mikhail Krysin explained.

Further discussing the topic of the US-Russia confrontation, Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow at Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), noted that the chances to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict are currently very slim.

Full text news agency "PenzaNews":
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