The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, has officially come to an end, and a bitter one at that.
President Trump decided to pull out of the decadeslong agreement today after his administration found that Russia was not only in “material breach of the treaty,” but had made no effort to follow INF-set standards.
“Russia alone is to blame for this situation,” a senior official said. “We have taken every opportunity -- dozens and dozens of opportunities across two administrations – to bring Russia back into compliance.”
The U.S. has long complained that the treaty was no longer fair and actually doesn’t stop the arms race as intended as Russia was openly violating it, while China, which is a non-signatory, is free develop weapons that would otherwise be prohibited.
The Trump administration said, for example, Russia has produced and fielded multiple battalions of the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile throughout Russia, which is a violation of the treaty. Some of the missiles have “the ability to strike critical European targets.”
As it stands now, it seems NATO is standing by the United States’ decision.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the transatlantic alliance would "respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to allied security".
But, he added, Nato "does not want a new arms race" and confirmed there were no plans for the alliance to deploy land-based nuclear missiles of its own in Europe.
Whether this signals the start of a new arms race between the two global powers or is merely a strategy by the President to negotiate a new and better deal is yet to be seen. What is certain, however, is this latest development has only made a frosty U.S.-Russia relationship that much colder.