Another «prominent politician of our time,» President Trump, announced his withdrawal from the key Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles (INF). This treaty, signed by the USSR and the USA in 1987, significantly reduced the likelihood of a big war in Europe. In case of termination of the treaty, the deployment of such US missiles as Pershing will take place again, but now in Eastern Europe — in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and even the Baltic states, and possibly in Ukraine or Georgia, with a flight time of several minutes. Obviously, for Russia it is extremely unpleasant, and if the collapse of the INF Treaty does take place, it will mean the collapse of the entire defense strategy of Russia.
Today, our geostrategic situation is objectively much more complicated and worse than it was in 1987: there is neither the Warsaw Pact anymore, nor the USSR. Due to the complete failure of Russia’s foreign policy, Russia has no partners among the nuclear powers or loyal military-political allies in general. The military rivalry provoked by Putin will involve enormous costs, whereas the Russian economy today, compared to the NATO countries, is very small and far from on the rise. That is why the INF Treaty is much more important for Russia today than 30 years ago.
Instead of saber-rattling with nuclear weapons and discussing who “will die” and who “will go to heaven” [according to Putin’s words], we must do everything possible to preserve the INF. This means tabling technically sound proposals for new control measures and preventing the disintegration of the entire arms control system. Making such a step, Russia will not just answer Trump, but will take into its own hands the initiative of discussing one of the most important security issues of the modern world, in the solution of which our country is primarily interested. The EU leaders and the closest US partners in NATO definitely do not want the destruction of the INF Treaty and will contribute to the implementation of constructive proposals. To do this, it will be certainly necessary to recall that diplomacy is not rabid propaganda and not endless attempts to satisfy personal ambitions, but professional work to protect real national interests.
All this is very serious, because we are on the verge of the collapse of the entire legal system of control over nuclear weapons. This also applies to the current START Treaty, and other agreements — the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). If such negotiations do not begin, at least a new cycle of the arms race in this area will finally deprive Russia of the prospects for development.
That is what, by the way, should have been discussed during the July talks in Helsinki (see the article “The Politics of Naked Kings”, July 2018). Putin called them a «sunstantive [discussion]», and Trump — «productive». But today it is absolutely clear that there has been neither content nor productivity in the current Russian-American relations.
We are really on the verge of great danger. Think yourself what can be there on the threshold…