The Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty negotiated in 1987 between President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev, removed intermediate-range missiles, American cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20s, from Europe. Following the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, further steps were taken to reduce tensions in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 whereby Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan would surrender the Soviet nuclear weapons on their territory to Russian control.
Also, during the 1990s, repeated assurances were given to the Russian Federation that NATO would not engage in a continuous expansion eastwards, extending a military threat right up to the Russian border. NATO, essentially the Americans, have reneged on these commitments numerous times. An article in Der Spiegel is useful here.
When the Yanukovych government was overthrown in Ukraine, by an obvious CIA-inspired and executed plot, Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, was handing out cookies in Maidan Square to celebrate. Is it any wonder that the Russians were concerned?
The very real possibility existed that a NATO puppet government would take over in Ukraine and possibly the only warm-water port of the Russian Navy would fall to NATO. Further, Crimea has always been part of Russia proper; it was only handed over to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954 by Khrushchev, allegedly in a drunken stupor at the time. So what “legitimacy” can be claimed for that?
The Russians made the only possible geostrategic decision—retain the port by retaking Crimea. This was a popular move in Russia and in Crimea, particularly as Ukraine has continued to become more chaotic.
Fast forward to the present when the US foreign policy establishment has decided to tear up the INF Treaty.
According to Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD, in an article in The American Conservative (no less)…
The United States has a track record of asking nations to prove a negative when it comes to compliance with arms control agreements, and then holding them to account when they fail to do so. The deficit of integrity over U.S. claims against Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction and Iran and its nuclear program speaks volumes about how corrupt America’s policymaking apparatus has become. Now the United States is making the same mistake again by pulling out of the INF Treaty, which it claims Russia violated.
According to the current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, the intelligence community “assesses Russia has flight-tested, produced, and deployed cruise missiles with a range capability prohibited by the Treaty.” Coats named the system in question as the 9M729. He noted that the Novator design bureau was the responsible agency, and that the 9M729 missile closely resembled other cruise missiles Novator was developing at the time.
According to Coats, “Russia conducted the flight test program in a way that appeared purposefully designed to disguise the true nature of their testing activity as well as the capability of the 9M729 missile.”
In the US claims, there are many things that “appear” or “are probably” something or other with very little to back up the claims. The main claim is the recently developed missile, the 9M729, a ground-launched cruise missile, has a range longer than the 2,500 miles permitted by the INF Treaty.
To cut a long story short (you can read the details in Ritter’s article), the new missile has a propulsion system the same as its predecessor, which operates within the limits of the INF Treaty. Indeed…
…Russia has indicated that it is willing to go further—perhaps removing the missile from its sealed launch canister for a more technical evaluation by U.S. specialists—to reinforce the 9M729’s compliance.
The U.S. has refused to participate in such an exercise.
Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Thomas Graham, Jr, in 1994 said,
…“A high degree of confidence is required before the United States will publicly charge another party with violation of an international agreement.”
As Ritter drily points out…
The words of Thomas Graham hang heavy in the air today. There is nothing about America’s case against Russia that meets that standard. Instead, the U.S. seems intent on following in the same path as previous intelligence failures in Iraq and Iran.
Since the fall of communism, the US foreign policy establishment has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They resemble the fossilized Soviet nomenklatura, hidebound and incapable of change.
Instead of seeking a rapprochement with Russia, welcoming her back into the fold of Western Civilization after suffering under communism for seventy years, uniting in the fight against the real threat to the West—Islam—the US nomenklatura is continuing its fratricidal and myopic foreign policy of incessant war-mongering.
Perhaps President Trump should be seen as the American Gorbachev, struggling to bring some glasnost and perestroika to an establishment desperately in need of some fresh thinking. Trump is Y-u-g-e, but not superman. He cannot do everything he would like to do; with all the seditious rabble in the Democrat Party offering nothing but hysteria and hatred, it’s quite remarkable what has been done. At least he has been trying to show some common sense about Russia, pretty hard to do when the Fake News media, the Deep State and the chattering classes are all so deluded about the current state of the world.