A high-ranking Russian military official has accused the U.S. of stoking controversy in order to cover up plans to deploy missiles in Europe.
Washington has accused Moscow of violating a key missile ban treaty with the aim of preparing the world for its own redeployment of missiles in Europe, said Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov. AP has cited a reported plan by U.S. military officials to deploy nuclear-capable intermediate-range cruise missiles in Europe and Asia, according to RT.
Reported U.S. plan contains contingencies for failure of treaty
The missiles would target Russia, and are part of a plan allegedly written by the office of U.S. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The plan contains U.S. contingency plans for the failure of a missile treaty between the U.S. and Russia.
The two nations agreed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which forbids ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles which can hit targets between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers away from their launch site.
“Apparently, the US is ramping up the issue of ‘Russian violations’ to justify their own ostensibly responsive military action that would be aimed at ensuring American ‘leadership’ in confrontation with the mythical ‘Russian military threat’ that Washington drums up regardless of all facts to the contrary,”Antonov said.
Moscow reiterates commitment to treaty
He went on to say that the Russian Defense Ministry had requested clarification from the U.S. regarding the AP report.
“We stated our commitment to the INF treaty on many occasions. We believe that the return to Europe of American short and intermediate range missiles and their deployment in other regions, from which they would threaten Russia and other nations not following Washington directions would have a negative impact on global security and stability,” Antonov said.
The U.S. has reportedly questioned Russia’s commitment to the treaty, but Antonov claims that any grievances should be discussed during direct discussions between experts from the two nations. He said that Russia has several complaints related to the U.S. commitment to the INF.
Both sides agreed on the INF treaty in order to reduce their arsenals of nuclear missiles which were situated throughout Europe. Intermediate-range missiles were thought to be risky to keep on hand because of their short range, which leaves little margin for error. Nearly 2,700 missiles were decommissioned by both sides under the terms of the treaty.
Russia – U.S.: Repeated accusations over violations
Since the treaty was signed, both sides have accused the other of violations. U.S. officials claim that Russia possesses an Iskander cruise missile with a range greater than 500 kilometers, as well as developing a Rubezh missile that can target locations within 5,500 kilometers.
Russia has accused the U.S. of using intermediate-range missiles as part of its testing of anti-ballistic missile systems. Moscow has also claimed that U.S. missile launchers which are currently deployed in Romania, as part of the controversial ABM shield, violate the treaty. Although the launchers are supposedly used for SM-3 interceptor missiles, Russia claims that they can also fire Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Although Tomahawk missiles are generally deployed from warships, the fact that they are on the ground in Romania means that the U.S. is violating the treaty, according to Moscow.
Russian officials have also voiced growing concerns over the developing U.S. drone fleet, especially strike UAVs such as the MQ-1 Predator. Moscow claims that their operational ranges and lack of pilot mean that drones of this type are very similar to short-range cruise missiles.
The most recent controversy over the treaty arose in April this year, when both the U.S. Secretary of State and the top nonproliferation diplomat from Russia spoke out on their concerns at the United Nations General Assembly.
Are we heading for another Cold War?
Tensions have been rising between Washington and Moscow since the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Both sides accuse the other of provoking a decline in the working relationship between the two nations, and many commentators claim that the situation has deteriorated to a level not seen since the end of the Cold War.
The situation is exacerbated by military brinkmanship in Eastern Europe, where war games by both sides have been raising fears of all-out war. Economic sanctions placed on Russia have done little to discourage President Vladimir Putin from sowing the seeds of mischief in the East.
High-ranking officials have admitted that little is known about Putin’s overall strategy, and that makes him a dangerous foe. However other sources claim that talk of a new Cold War is overblown, and Western politicians are being influenced by the U.S.
Investigative journalist Tony Gosling says that Washington is pushing the need for a united front against Moscow. “This our old Cold War talk, that is really driven by the Americans, and it certainly does not represent the views of European people or business, which is a bit worrying,” he said.