Russia Officially Suspends Arms Control Deal with U.S

Russia has suspended its Arms Control Deal with the United States after the U.S. announced its withdrawal due to Russian violations. According to Reuters, the U.S. notified Russia of its plans to withdraw from the treaty within 6 months unless Russia decides to return into compliance with treaty agreements. Back in December of 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would give Moscow a 60-day period to return to compliance with the treaty’s terms before officially withdrawing from the Arms-Control deal, according to Al Jazeera. However, the 60-day period ended, and the U.S. stated that due to Russia’s failure to comply it will suspend the treaty. In response, Russia announced its withdrawal from the treaty.

According to Al Jazeera, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, signed back in 1987 by former US president Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for more than three decades. The treaty banned the U.S. and Russia from “stationing short and intermediate range land-based missiles in Europe,” according to Reuters. The U.S. accused Russia of violating this section of the treaty however Russia denied any violations. According to Reuters, the U.S. State Department said that the United States could not be restricted by the treaty while Russia violated it. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has also accused the US of violating the INF treaty and other arms deals, including the non-proliferation treaty. While Russia has suspended the INF treaty as well, Putin said as long as the U.S. does not violate INF treaty agreements, neither would Russia.

Putin said in a statement, “the American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well.” He also added, “we have repeatedly and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue… We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.” According to Al Jazeera, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that in response to U.S.’s withdrawal plans from the treaty, he was expecting to receive official notification from the U.S., but did not. He then accused Washington of being “unwilling to hold any substantial talks” with Moscow to save the treaty.

According to Reuters, European nations fear the treaty’s collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of U.S. nuclear missiles stationed on the continent. According to Al Jazeera, Nuclear weapons experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cautioned that “leaving the INF treaty will unleash a new missile competition between the United States and Russia.” Also, Laura Rockwood, executive director at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, called the treaty “extraordinarily successful” and said it “needed saving”. Lockwood also urged for the initiation of dialogue between Russia and the U.S. before either party withdraws from the treaty. She stated that “There is a view that they [Russia] are violating the treaty but there is also the mechanism of the special verification commission which could be invoked, but it hasn’t, and perhaps if the two parties were willing they could sit together and find a way together to mutual verification.”

For the past three decades, the INF Treaty has served as the main inhibitor for nuclear-weapons expansion into the European continent, without it, the possibility of a nuclear arms race between Russia and the U.S. is highly likely. It is crucial that we do not reach this point for the safety of both countries and the world. Thus, there need to be talks between Russia and the U.S. to come to a better conclusion regarding the end of one of the most important treaties in place today. Also, while the U.S. accuses Russia of violating the treaty, it must provide evidence and most