Russian Following The U.S. In Abandoning The 1987 Range Nuclear Forces Treaty


On February the 2nd, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s abandonment of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty ( known as I.N.F), only a day after the United States’ announcement of pulling out of the pact. U.S. President Donald Trump had accused Russia of violating the 1987 treaty with “impunity” by their deployment and development of banned missiles, a case backed by all of Washington’s Nato allies. In the same accusation, on Friday the first, Trump announced that the U.S. will be moving forward with their development of military response options to protect Western Europe in case of Moscow’s deployment of cruise missiles.

Moscow continues to strongly deny any breaches of the Treaty and has accused Washington of creating these false accusations to justify their abandonment of the treaty. Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, explained that the U.S. has formally suspended all treaty obligations and stated that Russia’s “continued noncompliance has jeopardized the United States’ supreme interests.” Pompeo also mentioned in a statement that if  Russia does not return to “full and verifiable compliance” of all obligations then the treaty will terminate in six months time; adding “we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.” President Trump did express that he hopes “we’re able to get everyone in a big, beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better.” While Putin ordered for the development of new land-based intermediate-range missiles but explained and emphasized that they will not be moving missiles towards the European part of Russia, unless the U.S. does. “[The U.S.] have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly,” Putin stated.

The suspension of one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russian has to lead to some increased uncertainty of how close to a new arms race the world may be. I.N.F. is set to expire in 2021, was signed by the U.S. and USSR banning the use of short and medium- range missiles, leading to almost 2,700 missiles being destroyed by 1991. This is not a new argument with Putin declaring in 2007 that the treaty no longer served Russian interested after Washington left the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and the US has been accusing Moscow of violations since 2014. 

There are many implications of this abandonment on an international stage, beginning with an expensive new arms race between the U.S., Russia and even China as well as the potential for nuclear war. Thus, emphasizing NATO’s concern for the volatile situation at hand. NATO’s Secretary General  Jens Stoltenberg expressed that the six month period the United States has given Russia before the treaty terminates, should be taken full advantage of, and I cannot help but agree. There are many other concerns all EU nations are troubled with, without having to watch out for potential nuclear war and U.S. allies will assist in persuading Moscow to, hopefully soon, come to the table. Considering the competitive history I have very little confidence in either nation backing down from these accusations right away, but I also do not expect either of them to test each others’ limits on the topic. With this in mind I suspect, behind both governments postings, their advisors are already planning for a reevaluation of the treaties terms in a “big beautiful room,” if the American President gets his way.

Taylor Mackin

I am attending Florida State University majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Political science and minoring in communications.