The INF Treaty – Is an Arms Race Approaching?

Destroyed Pershing II missile stages, 1989

The United States has given the Russian Federation 60 days to cure what The White House declares is a Russian violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF). In all likelihood, Russia will not respond in the way Washington wants. So what then? Recent news reports give an inkling as to what lies ahead in relations between the two countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today in a meeting with NATO leadership, “Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) for many years.”

According to a report in the newspaper Kommersant, the Kremlin is extremely unlikely to budge on the missile issue for several reasons: (1) Moscow doesn’t respond to ultimatums on principle; (2) two months isn’t enough time to resolve the issue; (3) Russia also accuses the U.S. of violating the INF Treaty; and (4) the political will and trust necessary to address this issue simply doesn’t exist today, reported Meduza.

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Russia has reacted angrily to being called out on the violation.

“Taking into consideration that official representatives of foreign military agencies are in the hall, I would like to send a message to your leadership that if the INF Treaty is violated, we won’t leave this unanswered,” Gerasimov said.

“As military professionals, you should understand that not the US territory, but the countries hosting US systems with intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles will become targets for Russia’s retaliatory steps,” Gerasimov said, reported Russian state news agency TASS.

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“They are looking for someone to blame for this…ill-considered step,” Putin told journalists in Moscow, adding that “no evidence of violations on our part has been provided.”

It is “simplest” for the United States to say, ‘Russia is to blame,'” Putin said. “This is not so. We are against the destruction of this treaty.”

“What will be the response from our side? Very simple: We will also do this,” he said, indicating that Russia will no longer abide by the treaty if the United States withdraws,” reported RFERL.

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