One of the main international topics of recent times is Russia's accusations of violating the terms of the treaty on the elimination of intermediate and short-range missiles (INF). We will remind, not so long ago, the US State Department published a report on compliance with the terms of various international agreements. The document claimed that Russia was violating the INF Treaty, but not a single piece of evidence was presented to support this claim. The report was followed by a number of statements and proposals. In the near future, the current situation and, apparently, groundless accusations should become the subject of negotiations between representatives of Moscow and Washington.
RSD-10 PIONER medium-range missile system. Photo: Anton Denisov / RIA Novosti www.ria.ru
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded in a rather harsh but restrained manner to the appearance of the report and the statements of American leaders. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official commentary on August 1 that the United States has once again made a clumsy attempt to act as a mentor, evaluating others and "claiming to have the ultimate truth." In support of this, Russian diplomats recalled that the American claims are not supported by any evidence and are based on strange speculations and inferences. Thus, the claims are expressed not with the expectation of experts and analysts, but to create the necessary information background.
Washington got acquainted with the official Russian response to the accusations and took them into account. A few days ago, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf announced that a proposal had been sent to Moscow to hold new talks. The subject of the consultations should be the existing treaty on the elimination of the INF Treaty and the fulfillment of its terms. According to reports, negotiations will take place next September. Any information about the composition of the delegation, which will defend Russian interests, has not yet been published. The Russian Foreign Ministry proposes to first involve experts in the discussion of the problem and only then transfer them to the level of the leadership of the two countries.
On August 28, the Interfax news agency published an interview with Alexander Grushko, Russia's permanent representative to NATO. Among other things, the permanent representative commented on the situation with accusations of violation of the INF Treaty. He drew attention to the timing of these accusations. In early September, the next NATO summit will take place in Wales, during which the leaders of the organization will discuss various aspects of the strategy, including relations with Russia. The accusations of violating the treaty were published precisely in connection with the upcoming summit.
A. Grushko believes that information "stuffing" about alleged violations will be useful to those forces that are trying to present Russia as an enemy of the United States and NATO. The Permanent Representative also recalled that the existing agreement provides for mechanisms for dialogue and settlement of all emerging issues. As for the attempts to involve other NATO countries in the discussion of the problems of the treaty on the elimination of the INF Treaty, A. Grushko called them artificial.
Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO did not forget to mention Russian claims against the United States in the context of the INF Treaty. He recalled the existence of target missiles used in testing anti-missile defense systems, plans to deploy MK-41 missile systems in Eastern Europe, etc. systems, the characteristics of which make it possible to classify them as medium-range or short-range missiles. Thus, Russia can respond to American accusations with similar claims, which, moreover, are supported by evidence.
A. Grushko's assumption about the reasons for the appearance of dubious theses in the State Department's report has the right to life, since it fits well into the logic of the current international situation. However, there are other versions that can explain the reappearance of the INF Treaty in news feeds. Over the past years, the Russian leadership has repeatedly pointed out the negative features of the agreement, and also did not rule out the possibility of withdrawing from it.
The last statement of this nature was made in mid-August, after the controversial report appeared. During his speech in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin again raised the topic of medium and short-range missiles. Just a few days after that, the official representative of the US State Department, M. Harf, spoke about the proposal to hold negotiations. It is possible that another reminder of Russia's possible withdrawal from the treaty affected American diplomats, as a result of which they decided to initiate new negotiations.
The outcome of future negotiations is difficult to predict. Moreover, there is reason to believe that they will not lead to any result at all. The controversial State Department report did not provide evidence of violation of the terms of the INF Treaty, which is the reason for the corresponding unpleasant questions to American officials. If the evidence is not presented in the published document, and also does not exist at all, then the situation that has developed in recent weeks may take a very strange look.
It can also be assumed that future negotiations will not lead to countries withdrawing from the treaty. Over the past 25 years, the INF Treaty has been one of the foundations of security in Europe, which is why its termination may be associated with serious risks not only for the participating countries (the United States and Russia), but also for a number of European states. …
It should be recalled that several years ago Russia submitted to the UN a proposal to finalize the INF Treaty. This proposal concerned a change in the terms of the treaty, taking into account the current development of rocketry. At the time of the signing of the agreement, only a few countries had medium and short-range missiles: the USSR, the USA, France and China. Currently, the list of countries armed with such systems has increased significantly. In this regard, Russia has offered to open an agreement on the elimination of the INF Treaty for signing by everyone. Such a change to the agreement remained at the proposal stage.
In early September, a NATO summit will take place in Wales, during which the main strategic issues of the organization will be resolved. Among other things, this event is likely to raise the issue of further relations with Russia. If the assumptions of Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO A. Grushko are justified, then the report of the US State Department may become a pretext for a further deterioration in international relations. The Russian-American negotiations on the INF Treaty will take place later and, most likely, the US position will be adjusted taking into account the decisions of the NATO summit. It is unlikely that these negotiations will be easy and will quickly lead to a positive result.
As you can see, one of the existing international treaties has again become a hot topic. Moreover, it is used as an instrument of political pressure and, possibly, in the very near future it will become another reason for a new deterioration in relations with Russia. This means that Russian diplomats will soon again have to negotiate and defend the country's position.