Following Friday’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from the
Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has announced Russia will reciprocate and also stop following the treaty as well.
The US had been accusing Russia of a “violation” of the treaty based on the disputed range of a single new missile design. The INF forbade nuclear missiles with ranges between 500 km and 5,000 km.
Putin says that now that the treaty is being scrapped, Russia will specifically design new weapons within the INF range as part of their response to the US scrapping the treaty. With the US already out of the INF, they can no longer claim it’s a violation, after all.
This raises questions about why the US bothered to scrap INF at all, as doing so only encouraged Russia to go from a single putative violation to openly designing missiles that would’ve violated the treaty.
While scrapping the INF means the US can also develop such missiles, it’s unlikely they will develop any for actual deployment. The US replaced intermediate-range land missiles with submarine-based ones after the INF began, and the land-based missiles would only be in range of Russia if they were staged out of Europe. European countries after unlikely to eagerly host US nuclear arms aimed specifically at Russia, as it would make them a target.
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