23:06 GMT +316 February 2019
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    INF Treaty Collapse: Enough Is Enough!

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    Andrew Korybko
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    Russia finally had enough of the games that the US has been playing with the INF Treaty and decided to suspend its participation in the agreement as a symmetrical response to Washington’s withdrawal.

    Moscow accused its geopolitical rival of flagrantly violating the Old Cold War-era pact ever since it began testing unmanned aerial vehicles in 1999 that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said have the same characteristics as land-based cruise missiles banned by the Treaty, after which Washington went even further by trying to construct a global anti-missile shield and- as Defense Minister Shoigu said — producing some of the banned missiles over the past two years, too.

    The Russian position is that all accusations of it supposedly being the first to violate this agreement are false and intended as nothing more than the public pretext for justifying the US' preplanned move to withdraw from the 1987 treaty, which is why it concluded that it regrettably has no choice but to suspend its participation in the pact as well. Nevertheless, President Putin emphasized that his country will not deploy any short- or intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe or elsewhere unless the US deploys them there first, which should assuage some of America's European allies that are worried that they'll once again be caught in the middle of these two Great Powers' military rivalry.

    The ball is now proverbially in the US' court. There'll certainly be a symmetrical Russian response if America deploys these weapons near the country's European or Asian borders, though Moscow might not make a move if Washington keeps its previously banned weapons in the Mideast or parts of Asia that don't threaten its continental interests. Therefore, the US could keep Europe out of the fray by exploiting this anti-Russian provocation for anti-Iranian and anti-Chinese "containment" ends, though the Pentagon might have other plans and deem it a profitable opportunity to pressure the NATO countries to pay even more for defense if they're forced to host these weapons.

    President Putin assured his compatriots that his country's latest hypersonic missile advancements are more than sufficient for ensuring their security and that Russia won't get caught up in an expensive arms race, but Iran and China have two altogether different militaries and might not have a choice but to play into the Pentagon's hands and commit billions of dollars to defending themselves from this reemerging threat.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Adlan Margoev, Director of the "Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation" Program at PIR Center, an independent Moscow-based think-tank dealing with nuclear issues since 1994, and Don DeBar, host of a syndicated daily radio newscast CPR News heard across the US.

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    Tags:
    INF Treaty, United States, Russia