Has Moscow Given Up on European Arms Control?

Has Moscow Given Up on European Arms Control?

Russian dissatisfaction over U.S. plans to deploy missile defense radars and interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic has become so intense that senior Russian political and military leaders have recently warned that Moscow might withdraw from the two most important arms control treaties relating to European security.

First, Russian policy makers have indicated they might renounce the December 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This accord prohibits Russia and the United States from developing, manufacturing, or deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Its negotiation ended one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War, the so-called "missile crisis" in which Soviet and American missiles faced each other across the old east-west divide in Europe.

On Feb.15, Gen. Yury Baluyevskiy, chief of the Russian General Staff and first deputy defense minister, explicitly warned that Russia would unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty if the United States continues its present missile defense policies. Four days later, Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), stated at a Moscow news conference that Russia retained the technical capability to resume production of intermediate- and short-range missiles. He also explicitly warned that, if the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic agree to host U.S. missile defense systems, the SMF "could put these facilities on the list of targets."

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