The United States decided to withdraw from the INF Treaty, since the agreement has not been valid for several years – due to the fault of Moscow
The United States decided to withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF), as the agreement had long become invalid: Russia had already actually withdrawn from it unilaterally, violating many agreements reached between the United States and the USSR in 1987. Franklin Miller, director of the consulting firm Scowcroft Group, who has worked in the Pentagon leadership for many years, spoke about this in an interview with the correspondent of the Georgian service of the Voice of America Iya Meurmishvili..
Iya Meurmishvili: John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, after a meeting with Putin, confirmed that the United States is still withdrawing from the INF Treaty. Why this decision was made?
Franklin Miller: Mr. Bolton came to Moscow to tell the Russian authorities in the face that we know that they have been deceiving us for at least six years, and it is time for them to stop cheating. If they continue to do so, then we believe that the treaty is in fact no longer in force. Bolton has given the Russians some time during which they can “change their minds” and start complying with the INF regulations again. If this does not happen, then the United States will withdraw from the treaty, which can already be considered invalid..
IM: Why is this agreement important??
FM: Back in the late 1970s, the Soviet Union began deploying new SS-20 missiles. A danger arose for the US NATO allies in Europe and for Japan. NATO, through diplomatic channels, asked the USSR to suspend the deployment of these missiles. Moscow refused this request. In 1979, the Alliance countries decided to develop and deploy a new class of missiles to prevent the threat from the Soviets. At the same time, NATO offered the USSR to conclude an arms control treaty. It would allow both sides to control the use of new missiles. And then, in the face of a new threat, diplomats from both sides gathered and signed an agreement banning both Soviet and Western missiles of this type..
This agreement worked perfectly until 2012, when the Russian government cynically decided to violate the terms of the treaty and began developing new cruise missiles. Thus, it was Moscow that first ceased to comply with the agreement..
IM: However, the Kremlin insists that Washington was the first to violate the agreement, citing the deployment of American weapons at bases in Romania and Poland as an example. Who is right here?
FM: The missile defense systems installed in Eastern Europe are defensive, not offensive. The Kremlin claims that in addition to this we will secretly install Tomahawks at the same bases. This is complete absurdity, a classic KGB-style lie. If we tried to do this, everyone would know about it immediately.!
On the other hand, since 2012, the Russian government has been adept at hiding information about its new missile program. Only very recently did we begin to put public pressure on them, talking about the need to stop..
IM: Washington first accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty in 2014, but did not take any action. As a result, Moscow calmly deployed missiles on its western borders that threaten the security of European NATO members. Why didn’t we do anything back then, four years ago?
FM: Yes, the first accusations were made four years ago, when Moscow moved from the development stage to testing new missiles. This has already become a violation of the INF Treaty. Then, between 2015 and 2016, they began mass production of weapons – an even worse violation of the agreement. After that, Russia began installing these illegally produced missiles..
Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration have repeatedly told the Kremlin that it is violating the terms of the INF Treaty. And in Moscow, in response, everyone denied – according to the old Soviet habit of refusing to admit the obvious.
As a result, what we have now: the United States has nothing to respond to the new missile threat, and Putin and company have not been punished for violating an international treaty. And now these missiles directly threaten Western European security.
IM: What happens if the US withdraws from the treaty? Who will benefit most from this decision and how do you see the configuration of European security after that??
FM: Firstly, the US decision to withdraw from the treaty is absolutely technical, since Russia has already made a decision for itself to terminate the agreement. They deploy missiles in direct violation of the INF regulations. That is, they have already withdrawn from the agreement, but they did not explicitly state this..
Now the US and its allies must decide how Putin can be punished for violating the terms of the treaty. President Trump said that we will develop some new systems that can be opposed to Russian missiles. However, he did not say that we will deploy new weapons in Western Europe. We hope that after that Putin will understand: it would be better for his own safety to conclude a new agreement on arms control..
Thus, we are back to the situation of the early 1980s, when NATO was forced to develop new missiles in response to the Soviet threat, and in this regard, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was concluded..
By the way, right now, right at this very moment, the Russian government is simultaneously violating nine international agreements – starting with the Budapest agreement, according to which Moscow pledged not to use military force to reshape borders in Europe. Tell the Georgian and Ukrainian authorities about it!
Russia has repeatedly violated the Vienna Agreement, according to which it is obliged to provide real information about the ongoing military exercises. There is also the Chemical Weapons Convention. Russia also violated it. The list goes on and on.
In general, we can talk about the already established approach: the Kremlin does not want to officially withdraw from the treaty, since in this case it will lose the ability to control the armaments of the United States and NATO. However, at the same time, Russia calmly violates all the agreements it has signed in the field of world security. Now the real picture has been seen all over the world.
IM: In Moscow, John Bolton spoke of a “new strategic reality” in which new players on the nuclear field appeared, primarily China. Is it possible to sign a trilateral arms control agreement between the United States, Russia and the PRC?
FM: I think it won’t be easy to reach such an agreement, but it can be done. But before that, Beijing and Moscow will need to understand that the United States is deploying a new type of weaponry that poses a real threat to our adversaries. And then they will have to choose: either they leave everything as it is, or they conclude a control agreement with us. Judging by the history of our relations with both countries, only a diplomatic approach, without the use of a policy of containment, does not work with them..
Trump is proposing a deal: if you don’t like what we are doing, let’s make a new treaty, and the PRC can join it too. If you don’t want an agreement, well, then you have to deal with the consequences. In general, the usual containment policy that we have adhered to in relations with the USSR since the late 1940s.
IM: Or maybe President Trump is just bluffing, trying to get the right reaction from opponents?
FM: No, this is not a bluff. Everything is quite serious. I am much more concerned about the reaction of some of our allies in Western Europe. They say Trump is putting Europe at risk by his actions. But they do not want to admit the obvious: Europe is threatened not by American, but by Russian weapons! And it’s already in the launchers.
Russia tests terrifying new missile and rebuilds Cold War Arctic base
So I’m a little surprised at how Europeans have reacted to Trump’s statement. The blame for the fact that the agreement does not actually work lies with those who violated its terms. This is President Putin and his closest advisers.
IM: Can the United States provide the Kremlin with irrefutable proof that Washington is not violating the terms of the agreement??
FM: In theory, we can do this – invite Russian inspectors to our bases in Romania and Poland and demonstrate that there is no offensive weaponry there. But we can only do this if Russia itself provides us with unprecedented access to its new systems. They refused to do it. Moreover, they refused to admit the very fact of the existence of new missiles that have already been produced and installed, and we know for sure about the presence of such weapons..
IM: Putin said the other day that if the United States places new cruise missiles in Europe, then Russia will take retaliatory measures of a similar nature. Can we say that we are heading for a new cold war with might and main??
FM: In my opinion, we are not just moving towards a cold war, we are actually in it! If you look at what Putin and his inner circle have said in the past ten years, since the attack on Georgia, this is aggressive rhetoric that we have not heard since the days of Nikita Khrushchev..
The way Russia threatens our allies, invades foreign airspace and the territory of neighboring countries, annexes land, orchestrates cyberattacks – I think these are obvious signs of a new Cold War that is already underway. It’s just that we in the West (probably because we were so happy about the end of the old cold war) do not want to admit the obvious fact. The war is in full swing, and Russia began it.
IM: On October 25, NATO exercises Trident Juncture 2018 began in northern Scandinavia – their geography differs from the already familiar regions of Central and Eastern Europe, where NATO maneuvers are usually held. Thus, we make it clear to Russia that NATO will actively defend its borders in the north.?
FM: As you know, after the end of the “old” Cold War, the United States sharply reduced its military presence in Europe. However, a few years ago we realized that Russia was beginning to threaten its neighbors – our allies in the Alliance, especially the Baltic countries. During the exercise, our troops will hone the process of rapidly moving military forces from the United States and Great Britain to continental Europe..
In addition, we are sending a very clear signal to Russia: any possible aggression against NATO countries will be immediately followed by a response. I think that in the future we will become much more likely to conduct such large-scale – defensive, I emphasize – exercises.
IM: During Trident Juncture, an American aircraft carrier will appear in Arctic waters for the first time since the collapse of the USSR. Does this mean that NATO has begun to pay much more attention to the Arctic region due to Moscow’s aggressive behavior??
FM: In recent years, Russia has been very aggressive in the Arctic – it launches new submarines, reopens military bases in the Far North, and claims land in the region. We want to let the Kremlin understand that the Arctic is also included in the zone of our interests, and that we will defend our interests. This region is not exclusively a Russian fiefdom, and if Moscow uses military force there, we will stand up for our northern allies.
In journalism – since 2001. From 2005 to 2009, he was responsible for public relations at Nokia in the Russian Far East. He worked in Singapore, Thailand, Brazil and Argentina, developing corporate publications for Coca-Cola and Kaspersky Lab companies. In 2017, he participated in the restart of RTVI, worked as an Internet news editor at the channel’s New York office. On «Voice of America» – since 2018.