The Ukrainian crisis continues to worsen the situation in the international arena. The United States and European states are making attempts to put pressure on Russia, which does not share their views on the Ukrainian events. Until recently, the only instrument of such pressure was the sanctions imposed on individuals and organizations. Now, it seems that official Washington is forced to resort to "trump cards" and accuse Russia of violating one of the international agreements - the treaty on the elimination of intermediate and short-range missiles (INF).
On the morning of July 29 (Moscow time), the domestic media, citing their American colleagues, reported new accusations from the United States. First, it was reported that the American leadership had sent a special letter to Moscow, in which claims were made regarding certain violations. A few hours later, the situation was clarified by the official representative of the Washington White House, Josh Ernest. According to him, the information provided by American intelligence made it possible to determine that Russia is violating the obligations assumed when signing the INF Treaty.
The official recalled that in accordance with this agreement signed in 1987, the United States and the Russian Federation, as the legal successor of the USSR, have no right to develop, test and operate ground-based missiles with a flight range of 500 to 5500 kilometers. The treaty imposes similar restrictions on launchers and other developments related to missiles of prohibited classes. According to the New York Times, the current statements of official Washington are connected with the tests of a certain Russian cruise missile. Allegedly, during one or several test launches of recent times, the missile (missiles) was launched at a range of less than 5500 km, which was interpreted as belonging to the class of medium-range missiles.
It should be noted that the version about the tests of an unnamed cruise missile, which entailed a specific reaction from the United States, has not yet been properly confirmed. On July 29, the US State Department published a report entitled Adherence to and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments, on which J. Ernest's speech was based. The report indicates that Russia is violating the INF Treaty, but does not provide any facts or evidence of such a violation.
From the words of the representative of the White House, it follows that official Moscow has already replied to the letter from the American capital. At the same time, Ernest called the received answer "completely unsatisfactory." The details of the letter and the answer to it have not yet been disclosed. It is quite possible that American officials were not satisfied with the claims from Russia regarding the absence of any specific facts pointing to the alleged violations.
An interesting fact is that this is not the first time the United States has tried to accuse Russia of creating and testing medium and short-range missiles. Similar statements were made last year, and the first forecasts of a possible violation by Russia of the existing treaty appeared even earlier. Probably, the reason for this reasoning was the proposals of the Russian leadership to revise the terms of the treaty and their possible changes in accordance with the existing international situation. In particular, it was proposed to open the treaty for signing by all interested states. Several years later, Russian high-ranking officials began to note the ambiguity of the terms of the agreement and its ambiguity in the current environment. Even Russia's withdrawal from the agreement was not ruled out.
Recall that the treaty on the elimination of medium and short-range missiles was signed in December 1987. In accordance with this document, the USSR and the USA abandoned existing and promising ballistic and cruise missiles with a flight range of 500 to 5500 km. Over the course of several years, the Soviet Union destroyed more than 1,800 missiles and auxiliary equipment, the United States - more than 800. It should be noted, at the initiative of some high-ranking officials, the Soviet side included in the treaty and later destroyed all the operational-tactical missile systems OTR-23 Oka », Which by their characteristics did not fall under the document.
The text of the official Russian response to the letter from the Barack Obama administration has not yet been published. However, one can imagine the general meaning of this document. In addition, a number of Russian experts have already commented on the American accusations. All experts, whose words are quoted by the media, remind that Russia has long fulfilled all its obligations under the treaty and is still observing them. In this case, all the latest accusations look strange, aggressive and even meaningless.
It should be noted that in recent months, the United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty. The first such statements were made last year, after which they were repeated several times. However, so far, everything has been limited to words, since no evidence of violations has ever been presented. Thus, the latest statements by American officials and the corresponding fragments of the State Department report can be considered another attempt to put pressure on Russia in the context of the events surrounding the current Ukrainian crisis.