Tag Archives: INF

New global arms race

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, geopolitician OPINION  The United States, less than a month after its effective retreat on 02 August from the INF intermediate-range missile treaty signed in 1987 (from 500 to 5.500 km), fired an intermediate-range missile off California on August 19 to test this new weapon previously prohibited by the treaty. This new conventional missile is also likely to carry a nuclear warhead. Russia has also permanently withdrawn from the INF Treaty as a reaction to the US decision.

This missile fire reveals the following reality: To be able to launch a new missile, a month after the treaty was released, the United States had begun research on the development of a new intermediate missile, at a time when this type of missile was still banned.

It is surprising that no European member of the EU or NATO has ever stressed this aspect of the INF withdrawal. This way of proceeding reinforces the thesis of those who accuse the United States of having used the pretext of a supposed non respect of the INF treaty by Russia to develop their own missile. Moreover, by unilaterally leaving the treaty, the United States loses a means of pressure against Russia. China, which has not signed any treaty on intermediate-range missiles, is also the target of the United States seeking to maintain its strategic supremacy in Eurasia, from Lisbon to Beijing. China has so far refused to enter into negotiations on a new, larger treaty promoted by the United States that uses escalation as a means of pressure.

As a maritime power unparalleled in the world, the United States is already capable of firing medium-range missiles at Russian and Chinese territories from the sea, while Russia and China, primarily continental powers whose priority is the safety of their terrestrial environment, have so far developed less maritime capacity since their priority is the safety of their terrestrial environment as mainly continental powers. Since maritime capabilities (missiles aboard surface ships, submarines or aircraft) have never been incorporated into the INF Treaty dealing with ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles, an asymmetry has always existed in favor of the United States.

It should also be noted that the security environments of the United States and Russia are not comparable. The question of the geographical position of the territories of the United States and Russia is a central element to understand that we can not simply reason in terms of equivalence of armaments. Russia is surrounded in its geographical environment close to many states with increased ballistic capacity.

The territory of Russia is therefore located in a difficult strategic environment in contact with nuclear powers like China and geopolitical rivalries such as the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Far East, while the United States have for neighbors Canada and Mexico. The production by the United States of new missiles in response to the alleged non respect of the agreements by the Russians and the deployment of Chinese missiles does not bring a gain of security to the United States, surrounded by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It has no deterrent effect on either Russia or China which must position themselves against other threats from the Eurasian continent. This decision even provides an incentive for the Russians and Chinese to strengthen their own arsenal.

After unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US INF Treaty in 2019, the United States also stressed that the 2021 renewal of a nuclear arms reduction treaty, Start II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in 2012) would not be automatically renewed.

Russia had proposed before the US withdrawal a “moratorium on the deployment of intermediate range weapons”, rejected by NATO. NATO, however, has said it does not want to embark on an arms race and so far refuses the prospect of installing new missiles on European soil.

However, this position is precarious by the risk of escalation between the United States, Russia and China that would make Europeans the losers of a new arms race. The idea of ​​a new European security architecture from Lisbon to Vladivostok becomes even more relevant. Indeed, only a continental negotiation including Russia is likely to restore confidence and more control on this new arms race on intermediate-range missiles that makes no sense for the geopolitical interests of European nations.

INF: Moscow in reciprocity mode

Russia will not deploy new missiles as long as the United States shows similar restraint in Europe and Asia, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on August 18, reacting upon Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.

Washington announced the decision to formally leave the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia earlier this month after accusing Moscow of violating the Soviet-era treaty and deploying one banned type of missile, allegations the Kremlin has firmly denied.

Subsequently Russia has also left the INF, but Shoigu explained it had no plans to deploy new missiles.

AMENDED:

“We still stick to that. Unless there are such systems in Europe (deployed by Washington), we won’t do anything there,” he told the Rossiya-24 TV channel, according to Interfax news agency.

The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

NATO-Russia “fundamentally different”

The NATO-Russia Council, which brings together all 29 NATO Allies and Russia, met in Brussels on Friday July 5 to discuss Ukraine, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and transparency and risk reduction. This was the second meeting of the NATO-Russia Council this year. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said: “Our discussion was frank but necessary. Allies and Russia hold fundamentally different views but we are committed to continuing our dialogue.”

Outcome of the Council meeting: It is the choice and decision of the American side, which has refused the concrete and realistic measures of mutual transparency that we had proposed to alleviate concerns that have piled up” Russian mission to NATO wrote in Twitter micro blog after the meeting. The detailed comments have been published on the Facebook page of the mission:

The NRC meeting on July 5 focused on the security situation in Europe in the context of US announced withdrawal from the INF Treaty on August 2. The Russian Side indicated that attempts to shift the blame on Russia for the demise of the INF were unjustified. It is the choice and decision of the American side, which has refused the concrete and realistic measures of mutual transparency that we had proposed to alleviate concerns that have piled up. We drew the attention to real risks of further aggravating military and political situation in Europe. The Russian Side noted the need to exercise restraint. We confirmed that in our planning of the steps to ensure the interests of Russia’s military security in the context of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty we are not intended to deploy corresponding missile systems in Europe and other regions unless the US intermediate- and shorter-range missiles are deployed there. We called on NATO countries to make the same statement”.

NATO celebrates anniversary in April 2019 in Washington

NATO Foreign Ministers concluded two days of meetings in Brussels on Wednesday (5 December 2018), focused on issues including the INF Treaty, the Sea of Azov, the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, and the Alliance’s new training mission in Iraq.

The Foreign Ministers of the nations contributing to the Resolute Support Mission, met today in Brussels to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to ensuring long-term security and stability in Afghanistan.

“We express our utmost appreciation for the crucial contribution of the men and women serving in our Resolute Support Mission and in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. We pay tribute to those who have lost their lives or have been wounded in support of a better future for Afghanistan” the statement of the Foreign ministers said.

We reaffirm the decisions taken at our Summit in July 2018 on our continued support to Afghanistan, and we recall Afghanistan’s commitments, including to continue on the path to reform covering, inter alia, the promotion of human rights, good and inclusive governance, and combating corruption”- the Ministers confirmed.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Foreign Ministers will next meet in Washington in April 2019, marking 70 years since the Alliance’s founding. He added that Allied leaders will also meet later next year.

Russia considers NATO proposal on INF Treaty

Moscow’s proposals to discuss issues related to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) with the United States remain on the table, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a press briefing, commenting on the ultimatum on the treaty put forward by the US and NATO.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” she said.

The diplomat confirmed Russia has started considering the US and NATO statement on withdrawing from the INF Treaty in 60 days.