Recall that the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF) was signed thirty years ago, December 8 1987 of the year, US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and 1 of June 1988 entered into force. The prerequisites for signing the treaty were in a dangerous situation that was created in Europe due to the ongoing arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Back in 1950, a nuclear race began between the USSR and the USA, with the US deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in Italy, the United Kingdom and Turkey, and the USSR responded by deploying missiles in Cuba.
After the Caribbean crisis, the United States for almost twenty years abandoned plans to deploy medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles in Western Europe, but a new aggravation of the global political situation at the turn of the 1970-1980-s led to the Pentagon returning to its old plans. Moreover, the situation was clearly in favor of the United States. Soviet medium-range and shorter-range missiles, if deployed in the Warsaw Pact countries, could not directly threaten the territory of the United States, while American missiles from the same FRG freely threatened Soviet territory, not to mention the Warsaw Pact countries.
However, the ruling circles of West Germany were very concerned about the deployment of missiles on both the American and Soviet sides, who feared that in the event of a clash of the powers, Germany would turn into a battlefield. It was the leadership of West Germany who tried to actively lobby for the conclusion of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, acting as an intermediary between the Soviet and American sides.
Back in October, 1980, the Soviet and American sides began negotiations on a possible reduction of nuclear weapons in Europe. But in the same year, Ronald Reagan, who adhered to a tougher line against the Soviet Union, was elected President of the United States. Already in 1981, Reagan proposed not to deploy American medium-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe in exchange for the Soviet side eliminating the Pioneer RSD-10 missiles. But the USSR did not accept the proposal of Washington, because in Europe there would still be missiles of the allies of the USA - Great Britain and France. The Soviet Union came up with its own proposal - Washington refuses to deploy the Pershing-2 medium-range missiles and withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from European countries. weapon. Moreover, according to the Soviet proposal, both British and French medium-range missiles were also to be eliminated. Washington refused the Soviet proposal, because the Warsaw Pact countries had an obvious advantage in conventional weapons and in the size of the personnel of the armies of the socialist camp.
The coming to power of Yuri Andropov ensured for some time the preservation of the hard line of the Soviet leadership regarding the deployment of missiles in Europe, but soon Yuri Andropov died. Konstantin Chernenko, who became CPSU General Secretary, advocated the resumption of the negotiation process, but ran into opposition from another hardliner in the Soviet leadership of Marshal Dmitry Ustinov, the USSR Defense Minister and the second man in the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee. Ustinov didn’t like to take Soviet missiles out of Eastern Europe. Only after 20 December 1984, a middle-aged marshal died, a compromise line prevailed in the Soviet leadership.
The policy of the Soviet Union regarding the deployment of missiles began to change rapidly after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR and began the Perestroika course, which envisaged the liberalization of relations with the West. In 1986, the Soviet Union proposed to withdraw missiles from Eastern Europe to the Urals. But this idea was categorically opposed by Japan, which was concerned that the missiles could now be redirected to it. He did not support the idea of withdrawing missiles from the Urals and China. Therefore, the United States again refused the Soviet proposal. The negotiation process continued, but the Soviet side had already demonstrated an ever-greater accommodatingness, which was also connected with large-scale changes in the political course of the Soviet Union. Both Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev and the new Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze were determined to improve relations with the West and did not want to quarrel with Washington. Therefore, in the 1987 year, the Treaty was still concluded.
According to the agreement, the United States and the USSR committed themselves within three years to destroy all their complexes of medium-range and shorter-range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles and abandon plans for the possession of such missiles in the future. The obligations under the contract were fulfilled by June 1991 of the year, and, not surprisingly for that time, with benefits for the United States. The Soviet Union eliminated 1846 missile systems at 117 objects, and the USA eliminated 846 systems at the 31 object. In fact, the decision of the Soviet Union was determined by the then policy of Mikhail Gorbachev, who was counting on disarmament and peaceful relations with the West. But already ten years after the fulfillment of obligations under the contract, it became obvious how controversial the decision of the Soviet leadership was. This, by the way, was acknowledged by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
Back in June, 2000 of the year, 18 years ago, Vladimir Putin for the first time stated that the Russian Federation could withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles in the event that the United States withdraws from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Then, in May 2007, the then Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov emphasized that dozens of states with medium and shorter range missiles appeared in the current situation, therefore the relevance of the treaty is questionable. The Army General Yuri Baluyevsky, who at that time headed the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, announced a possible revision of the Treaty in 2007. Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, who served as commander of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, also announced a possible return to the production of medium-range ballistic missiles. It is clear that the top military leaders of the country would not allow such statements without having a similar position on the highest floors of the Russian power hierarchy. Finally, in June, 2013, Vladimir Putin, returning to the subject of the Treaty, called its signing by Soviet leaders in 1987, "at least controversial." Thus, the ground for the revision of the Treaty or for the general rejection of it, has been prepared for a very long time, both by the Russian and the American parties. If one of the countries withdraws from the Agreement, then in fact the Treaty will cease to exist, which can seriously change the military-political situation on the Russian borders.
In turn, in November 2017, 2018 million dollars were pledged to the US military budget for 58 for the development of a new land-based medium-range ballistic missile, which has already been nicknamed “evil tongues” by Donald Trump. The American side claims that it does this because the Russian Federation itself violates existing agreements. Thus, the mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) RS-26 "Frontier" raises many questions from American politicians and the military, although formally it does not violate existing agreements.
In the expert community of Russian politicians and lawyers, the attitude towards the contract is rather ambiguous. Indeed, in recent times the very existence of the Treaty has lost its meaning. Other states, and not just the United States and Russia, also have medium-range and shorter-range missiles. The political situation in the world is also changing rapidly. The United States and Russia actually returned to the stage of the Cold War, once again becoming military and political opponents. Naturally, in this situation, neither one nor the other countries will not interfere with the opportunity to possess their own medium and short-range missiles deployed in Europe.
According to lawyer Alexander Zorin, chairman of the Party of Free Citizens, the situation with the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles is not the best. The parties began with mutual accusations of violation of the Treaty. So, the Pentagon accuses Russia of having repeatedly violated the provisions of the Treaty in the past few years. In turn, Moscow makes similar claims to Washington.
How is the situation with medium and shorter range missiles now?
Indeed, it is very strange that the United States insists on limiting Russian weapons, despite the fact that a number of states already have medium-range and shorter-range missiles. For example, India, Pakistan, China, Iran, and Israel have such missiles. In this situation, the restriction of the right of ownership of missiles for the Russian Federation looks, at least, strange. The claims of the Russian side to Washington relate, firstly, to the production of “target missiles”, the technical characteristics of which actually make them similar to medium-range and shorter-range missiles and, thus, nullify the very meaning of the Treaty.
Secondly, the United States produces and uses unmanned aerial drums, on a scale that no other country in the world can afford. This nuance is also very significant and makes us think about the observance of the Treaty by the American side - not in word but in deed. By the way, the 1987 Treaty of the Year prohibits ground-based missiles with a range from 500 to 5500 km.
Are there any violations by Washington?
The US has long violated all previous agreements, including in terms of NATO expansion to the east. Although the Warsaw Pact and the socialist bloc ceased to exist, NATO still exists and, moreover, includes more and more countries. Now the former republics of the Soviet Union - Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia - have entered NATO. Naturally, this circumstance also represents a great threat to the defense capability of the Russian state.
What is the position of the Russian side? Does Moscow believe that the Treaty needs to be respected or is it also focused on revising it?
In the Russian Foreign Ministry, by the way, still adhere to the idea of the need to preserve the Treaty, but emphasize that this requires a very responsible approach on the part of the United States. While this is not observed. After all, it is not Russia that creates military blocs with Mexico or Guatemala, located near the borders of the United States. The integration of the former Soviet republics, the states of Eastern Europe into the NATO bloc is taking place, which is very serious.
On the other hand, Europe is also concerned about the possible withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty, since European leaders are well aware that medium- and short-range missiles will be aimed at European capitals and infrastructure facilities. In this case, the USA practically loses nothing, but European countries risk turning into a battlefield in the event of a large-scale conflict. The new rocket, the creation of which was started up in the United States, according to some experts, can do Trump a wrong service - it will divert attention from Russian actions and allow Russia to be the first to blame the United States for violating existing agreements.
Moreover, the United States, for example, has deployed the AegisAshore anti-missile defense system in Romania and Poland, and this is the immediate proximity to the Russian borders. NATO countries are the closest allies of the United States and, since many of them are located close to Russia, the United States is able to put the entire European part of Russia at risk from its medium and short range missiles. So far experts say that in the event of the dissolution of the 1987 Treaty of the Year, Russia and the United States will be able to adopt a limited number of land-based cruise missiles. However, if the overall political situation in the world becomes more complex, then the parties can move on to a larger arms race.