March 10, 2017

Russia's Missile Gamble: Is the INF Treaty Dead?

By William McHenry

Last month, the New York Times reported that Russia had secretly deployed two battalions of ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). In the wake of this revelation, much has been written about the future of the INF Treaty, and how the United States should respond militarily and diplomatically to Russia’s violation.

We must understand that Moscow will continue to cheat on the INF Treaty, so it is important to explore the root causes of Russian misbehavior. Russian president Vladimir Putin has decided to disregard the INF Treaty due to China’s growing military strength and Russia’s own military doctrine. Furthermore, Russia violating the treaty helps Putin fulfill his long-term goal of weakening NATO.

The INF Treaty, signed in 1987 by the United States and the Soviet Union, bans ground-launched missiles with a range capability between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers. But over the last decade, Russia has made it clear that it perceives the INF Treaty to be an unfair deal. Moscow’s primary argument is that the treaty is flawed because it has only been signed by the United States and Russia, thus, Russia’s other strategic rivals, namely China, are not constrained by the INF Treaty’s limitations on missile technology. Consequently, China has made considerable investments in intermediate-range missiles.

Read the full article at The National Interest.