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The return to the Cuban missile crisis

07.07.2015 10:49

Valeria Shatkaya

On June, 5 the US State Department claimed that Russian Federation had failed to put right the violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. According to the US State Department report, in 2014 Moscow possessed, produced and tested ground-launched cruise missiles with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km as well as launchers of such missiles. That is why the USA is considering deploying nuclear cruise missiles in Europe and bolstering missile defense system on the global scale. An unclassified part of a report written by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, published by the Associated Press considered the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe or Asia and "ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missiles equipped with technology that adjusts the trajectory of a warhead after it re-enters Earth's atmosphere and heads for its target". In April Robert Scher, one of the US Defense Secretary's aides explained the US counterforce: "We could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia." He also suggested not to simply attack Russian missiles but see "what things we can hold at risk within Russia itself." Besides, Foreign Secretary of the U.K. Philip Hammond claimed that United Kingdom was ready to host US nuclear missiles over Russian threat. Both statements that came from Washington and London are interconnected and complement each other.

Firstly, the US accusations are unfounded. The American counterpart is fully aware that there is a mechanism of Russian-American consultations to consider the implementation of the Treaty and possible complaints. Up to now Washington has not provided any concrete facts to support its position. Instead of this the USA refers to credible classified sources, whose reliability cannot be verified. Secondly, it is obvious that Washington is looking for new ways to justify its missile defense deployment in Europe as well as its military build-up in Europe.

Here it is necessary to mention vertical missile launch systems (VLS) Mk-41 that the USA intends to deploy in Romania and Poland as part of its missile defense in Europe. Once again the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noticed that these systems can launch both the Standard Missile-3 interceptor and the Tomahawk intermediate-range cruise missiles. In this case the deployment is a direct violation of the INF Treaty.

The next claim to the USA is the issue of target missiles Washington uses to test its global missile defense. These targets have similar characteristics to intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. That gives reason to believe that Washington may work on the production of prohibited ballistic missiles.

Next point concerns the combat unmanned aerial vehicles the USA produces. These vehicles fall under the INF Treaty definition of ground-based cruise missiles, "taking into account the common understanding on the definition of the term "weapon-delivery vehicle", as recorded in the exchange of diplomatic notes between the Soviet Union and the United States on May 12, 1988", as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

So, for Washington it is more convenient to accuse Moscow in everything. At present it is a verbal threat to Russia. The West is driving Russia up the wall. Philip Hammond clearly understands that such move would lead to new arms race. However he is rather confident in his claims. Apart from provoking Russia and returning to the period of Cold War his statement may be interested in the long view. Mr. Hammond just sounded American desires. The USA might consider deploying nuclear missiles in Europe amid hopes that its global missile defense system and its European component will secure the USA and its allies from Russian retaliation nuclear strike. That means the USA will have an edge over Russia, launching first nuclear strike. Reflecting the part that US threat to strike Russian industrial facilities as a counterforce means a direct threat of war. That clearly proves the fact that US missile defense system in Europe is aimed at Russia.

Here it is pertinent to notice that fielding of the US missiles in the U.K.in 1980s resulted in protests over country. But will London wish to repeat clashes between police and peaceful protesters?

Additional deployment of US nuclear missiles in Europe or Asia as well as the developing of the US global anti-missile shield will strengthen US and NATO’s nuclear capabilities. In this case Russia will have to intensify its defense and develop new strategic offensive weapons. No doubt, the U.K. will be at Russian gunpoint. Nobody needs the reverse of Cuban missile crisis.

It is obvious that one of the reasons the USA accuses Russia of "violation" of the INF Treaty is to prevent Moscow from developing a new cruise missile and intercontinental ballistic missile, both of which completely correspond to all treaties signed with the USA.

At the same time the USA and NATO continue developing its military build-up closest to the Russian frontier. On February NATO adopted a decision to deploy new brigade-sized Spearhead Force of around 5000 troops. Thus the enhanced NATO Response Force will count up to 30000-40000 troops. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also claimed about the establishing of six multinational command and control units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. The command center took place in Tallinn. Add here the NATO Allied Shield drills, including BALTOPS, the Trident Joust exercise, Saber Strike and others, taking place in Europe. Besides, Pentagon considers plans to store heavy weaponry in several Baltic and Eastern European countries. According to the New York Times, the proposal, if approved, "would include about 1200 vehicles, including some 250 M1-A2 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and armored howitzers". Furthermore it should be underlined that the USA modernizes its surveillance and missile warning satellites and refuses to elaborate international agreements that prohibit a placement of weapons in outer space. Taking into account the developing of the space program as a part of the US global missile shield this fact also causes serious concerns.

On the whole the US and NATO’s unwillingness to get into dialogue with Moscow, curtailing of cooperation, sustainable desire to blame Russia in everything and the intention to enlarge and expand military presence near Russia's borders only provide evidence that Washington and Brussels are aimed at escalation of political and possibly military tension with Russia. In confirmation of this thesis, the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has recently said that "Russia might not change under Vladimir Putin or thereafter". That means the USA and NATO will consider Russia as a threat even after the presidency of Vladimir Putin. But such a confrontation between West and Russia won't promote the European and international security and could lead to the new Cuban missile crisis.