The end of the INF Treaty: how superpowers fade away

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — So the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), around which in recent years there have been so many mutual accusations and proceedings between the United States and Russia, has terminated.

Despite the weekend and the expected event, the news naturally caused a noticeable resonance. Exceptionally much more revival in this regard in America than in Russia can be considered curious.

If Moscow confined itself to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry expressing regret over the incident and a reminder that the United States became the initiator of the treaty, the Americans were much more talkative.

A statement by the country’s defense minister, Mark Esper, was published on the Pentagon’s website , which, firstly, blamed Russia for the collapse of the INF Treaty, and secondly, announced that the United States was starting to develop new weapons previously prohibited by the agreement.

Esper also told reporters that in light of the termination of the treaty, he favors the early deployment of medium-range missiles in Asia. According to him, he would like this to happen within a few months, but admitted that “such things, as a rule, take longer than expected.” Experts almost unanimously considered that this minister’s comment is far more likely to bother (and piss off) Beijing than Moscow.

However, the Europeans naturally showed the greatest activity in expressing their attitude – negative, of course – towards the death of the INF Treaty. Speakers were Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries. Moreover, the French and the Belgians openly pointed out another problem of concern to them – the rapidly expiring action of another document of this kind. It’s about START-3, whose term ends in February 2021, and the chances of its extension seem frankly illusive.

The alarm of Europe can be understood. Despite all the statements from Washington, Beijing and Moscow about the need for new arms control agreements, the likelihood of their signing tends to zero.

The entire plot around the Soviet-and then Russian-American arms agreements is a vivid illustration of several of the most important principles of world politics. For example, that not a single status quo lasts forever, and any complacency of the winner only makes its coming fall closer. Or, what is it, like brilliantly conceived and implemented plans that ensured massive success for a nation in the short and medium term, could turn into an equally painful strategic defeat.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the United States really achieved impressive success by tying arms and legs to Moscow by arms reduction treaties. Thus, they achieved two truly significant goals. First, they recorded a victory in the Cold War, and then to the maximum they secured themselves and their allies (primarily, of course, Europe) for the planned period of the final degradation of the Russian military potential, including nuclear.

The framework that these agreements imposed on Washington itself was not perceived as critical, since the situation was much worse for Moscow, and the Americans did not see a chance that Russia would be able to break free of not only relevant documents, but also huge problems in all spheres of the state’s life.

At the same time, the Americans were convinced: their technological and economic superiority over the rest of the world is so great that the emergence of any threat of their military hegemony from a third party is simply impossible. So, imposing similar agreements on someone else does not make sense.

After almost thirty years, it turned out that the States – their leadership and the expert community – were mistaken on both points. Moreover, this unpleasant discovery for them coincided with the weakening of the United States in other geopolitical directions.

It is clear that in the current new situation, for the Americans, only such documents on arms limitation are acceptable that drive a genie (that is, Russia and China, as well as smaller ambitious competitors) back into the bottle and return the United States the inviolability of the status of the main military power on the planet. Which, in turn, categorically does not suit Moscow and Beijing. So, any declared good intentions in this area will remain intentions.

As for Europe, it is reaping even more bitter fruits of the strategically wrong choice made three decades ago. The point is not only that the Old World again feels itself to be a target for Moscow and an inevitable theater of war, if it still comes to those between Russia and NATO.

More important than another. The unpleasant deja vu from the Cold War this time for the Europeans is complemented by their own steadily increasing confrontation with the defender, leader and, to a certain extent, overlord.

If 40-50 years ago, during the confrontation between the USSR and the West, Europe really felt that it was under American protection, now they cannot help but think about what the United States can do to save its own status and its economy. And if they do not use partners-competitors for the Atlantic as a bargaining chip in some dirty military-political combination, if they get such an opportunity.

Here are just expressions of regret over the death of the INF Treaty, calls for not burying START-3 and reaching new agreements can hardly be considered an effective way to avoid such a fate. And there are simply no others at the disposal of Europe. Anyway, bye.


This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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