Global Showdown: Putin Suspends Russia’s Obligations Under the INF Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin formally ordered a suspension of Russia’s obligations under the INF Treaty, as he said he would do after the United States had pulled out of the treaty. The brief presidential decree stated:

“Proceeding from the need to take urgent measures in connection with the violation by the United States of America of its commitments under the Treaty … I hereby resolve … to suspend the implementation of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles of December 8, 1987, until the United States of America rectifies its violations of the said Treaty or until it expires.”

The Chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sen. Konstantin Kosachev explained on his official Facebook account on March 4 that Putin’s decree only suspends Russia’s compliance with the INF treaty, but does not terminate the document.

“I am sure that unless forced to do so … Russia will not aim its missiles at European targets, command and decision-making centers in the U.S., which is what Putin spoke about…. Russia is not giving up and hopes that our Western counterparts will show common sense, though it has been a futile hope in recent years. Do missiles have to be deployed for the European public to wake up like it did in the 1980s? An anti-war movement did a miracle then and the hope for a miracle (when there is nothing else left to hope for) dies last.”

Senator Kosachev continued:

“Until the very last moment, Russia was trying to preserve the Treaty, calling for an open dialogue on its future and even allowing military experts and journalists to see the controversial missile the U.S. talked about when giving reasons for its withdrawal. Alas, at some stage it became obvious that Russia was not the real reason, and the U.S. simply wanted to pull out of the Treaty.”

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov addressed how dangerous the situation now is, telling a March 4 meeting at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.:

“We are very much concerned that after the decision of the United States to withdraw from INF, missiles could be deployed on the territory of European allies. We will be forced to deploy our missiles, and here you will see that the whole territory of European countries will be covered.”

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