Russia Warns of Arms Race If U.S. Quits Weapons Treaty

Russia warns of an arms race if the U.S. pulls out of Weapon Treaty. The U.S. says Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and plans to withdraw. The INF treaty was signed by the United States and the USSR in 1987 at a Cold War Washington summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General-Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The treaty banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, except sea-launched weapons. The U.S. believes that Russia has a new medium-range missile called the Novator 9M729, known to NATO as the SSC-8. If this is true, then the missile would be a violation of the INF treaty and would enable Russia to launch a conventional or nuclear strike at NATO countries at very short notice. Consequently, President Trump said that his country would not let Russia “go out and do weapons [while] we’re not allowed to.”

Russia has not given much detail about the missiles, however, they do claim that it is not a breach of the INF treaty. According to The Guardian, the U.S.’ decision has provoked anger in Russia, where officials deny that they have deployed any short- or medium-range missiles. In response to the threat of the United States to pull out of INF treaty, Putin said, “He said it was “very dangerous” to dismantle a global arms control system and added: “There would be nothing left except an arms race.” He warned that if U.S. pulls out “Russia’s response would be very quick and effective.” In addition, he brought to attention that Russia was concerned that Trump’s nation had already dropped the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. He wants to leave the INF treaty, but the future of the nuclear arms reduction New Start treaty is unclear.

Although the treaty prevents both sides from developing new weapons, Trump said the U.S. will begin to do so again unless Russia agrees not to develop new arms. He said, “we’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say, ‘Let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’ but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable.” According to the BBC, NATO supported the U.S.’ criticism of Russia, and added that in order for a treaty to work, both sides have to adhere to it. “We don’t have an effective INF treaty if it’s only respected by one part,” Mr. Stoltenberg told a press conference. “That has been and it is the main problem. All allies have strongly stated that we are concerned about the new missile and that the most plausible explanation is that Russia is in violation of the INF treaty”. Lastly, he added “this is not something that can go on because the treaty is not working if it’s only respected by one side.”

According to Al Jazeera, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia would be forced to act if the United Stes pulled out of the INF treaty. He said “because what does scrapping the INF treaty mean? It means that the United States is not disguising, but is openly starting to develop these systems in the future, and if these systems are being developed, then actions are necessary from other countries, in this case Russia, to restore balance in this sphere.” However, he also declared that Russia remained committed to the INF treaty and would “never” inflict a “first strike” attack. According to The Guardian, the deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, described Trump’s announcement as a “very dangerous step” and “blackmail to forcefully get certain concessions in a number of areas,” adding “in contrast with U.S. colleagues, we realize how serious the matter is and how it is important for security and strategic stability, and we again call on all those people who set the tone in Washington to show a balanced and sober approach.” Lastly, according to Al Jazeera, although several international powers, including China, Germany and France, expressed concern over Trump’s comments, Britain said it would stand “absolutely resolute” alongside Washington over the issue.

To prevent the situation from escalating, it is important that the U.S. shows its evidence on Russia’s violation or that Russia proves to NATO that those claims are false. Responding to Russia’s alleged violation of the INF treaty by completely pulling out of treaty does not solve the problem, it will only lead to greater instability and an unnecessary arms race between the United States and Russia. Therefore, it would not be wise for America to pull out of treaty and begin producing weapons, as Trump suggested. Treaties only work if both sides adhere, which is why its important that both sides do. By pulling out of treaty and threatening to begin producing weapons, the United States would only be making the situation more threatening. The U.S., Russia, and NATO officials should cooperate and give Russia a chance to prove that Trump’s claims were false, or give America a chance to prove their claims. Until then, there should not be any major action taken against Russia or dismantling of INF treaty.