US President Donald Trump during a speech in the state of Nevada said that the United States of America may withdraw from the INF Treaty, since Russia is violating this agreement. In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the response of Moscow would be identical. At the same time, the Kremlin accused the United States of wanting to break the treaty.
The Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles (PRSMD) was signed on December 8, 1987 in Washington, and entered into force on June 1, 1988. Despite the collapse of the USSR, the treaty continued to exist and even acquired a multilateral character, since apart from the United States and Russia, there appeared other participating states like Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
According to the INF Treaty, the parties pledged to eliminate deployed and non-deployed short-range (from 500 to 1,000 km) and medium-range (from 1,000 to 5,500 km) land-based missiles. In addition, the parties pledged to destroy launchers, launch sites, auxiliary equipment and other equipment at 117 Soviet facilities in the former USSR, GDR and Czechoslovakia, as well as at 32 US facilities in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The main point of the contract is that the parties pledged not to produce or test new medium and shorter missiles.
Thus, the USSR destroyed 1,846 missiles, and the USA — 846.
The USSR and the United States agreed that inspections would be conducted every 13 years for mutual control. Until recently, the parties did not have claims. But in 2014, the United States accused Russia of developing a rocket that has a range from 500 to 5,500 km. In 2017, the American media reported that the cause of contention was the Novator 9M729 rocket (according to NATO classification SSC-8). Russia began testing missiles at the Kapustin Yar test site in 2016. The reaction of the Russian side was not long in coming. Maria Zakharova, an official spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that “a ground-based cruise missile with the 9M729 index fully meets the requirements of the treaty,” and the American side “does not give specific facts of violations.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov put the blame on Washington in general and said that it was the United States who was looking for grounds to dissolve the INF.
At the same time, Donald Trump said that he did not intend to withdraw from the treaty unilaterally, but called on not only Russia, but also China to sign a new agreement.
At present, there are five countries in the world, including China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK that have ground-based medium-range ballistic missiles with nuclear heads. In addition, a number of other countries have missiles of this class without nuclear weapons. At the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly in October 2007, Russia and the United States took the initiative to make the INF Treaty a global one. But the call did not find support. In this regard, Russia considered that the realities of the modern world and the security interests of the Russian Federation may require the revival of a group of medium-range ground-based missiles, which led to the violation.
The signing of the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium and Short-Range Missiles put an end to the Cold War in the late 80s and early 90s. Now, after the big statements of some leaders, we can talk about the new Cold War and the beginning of a new round of confrontation. For now, this confrontation looks like an arms race.