Responding to US Unleashing Unfettered Arms Race: Russia’s Options

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Written by Andrei Akulov; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

With the announcement of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty, the issue of Russia’s response comes to the fore. First, the US decision is still to be made official. It can be reconsidered. After the formal notification there’ll be six months before the treaty is dead. Moscow is ready for talks at any level any time. The US administration is in for hard times. The opposition to the decision is strong in the Congress, with many American pundits and NATO allies expressing disagreement. Germany has already criticized the move. It’s not over yet. There is still a chance to save the landmark agreement. But if the worst happens and the INF Treaty becomes history, Russia will hardly surrender and kneel. It will respond. It has options.

Responding to US Unleashing Unfettered Arms Race: Russia’s Options

With the US ground-based intermediate range missile non–existent, Russia can easily extend the range of its Iskander missile systems to cover all Europe with American military assets becoming prime targets. It can field ground-based Kalibr cruise missiles. The number of conventional and nuclear-tipped air- and sea-based cruise missiles in Europe and nearby waters can be easily increased. The Russian Navy and Air Force have acquired the capability to strike the continental USA with intermediate range missiles launching them beyond the air defense systems’ reach. This capability can be strengthened. Russian naval ships with cruise missiles on board could anchor in the countries like Venezuela or Nicaragua on a rotational basis. Long range aviation bombers could use air bases there too. Russia has never threatened the continental USA but it will have to do it. It won’t be the one who started it, after all.

As one can see, Moscow has a lot up its sleeve to respond with. It’s very important to realize that, unlike in the 1980s, Russia has the intermediate strike capability to threaten the US continent. It can strike Alaska with medium range delivery means right now. The times have changed.

The idea behind the move is to interconnect the INF Treaty with the New START Treaty to make Russia more pliant. But Russia is going through modernization of its strategic arsenal with new assets entering service while the US is still a long way to go developing, testing and introducing new systems to upgrade its potential. It will take years. By endangering the New START Treaty, the US shoots itself in the foot.

The bilateral relationship is at low ebb but it’s wrong to use arms control agreements as bargaining chips. Using the Helsinki Act terminology, sanctions, Ukraine, Syria, “election meddling” accusations should go to one “basket”, while arms control as well as the issues related to military activities should go to another. The bilateral agenda should be divided, not interconnected. Those who worked on the Helsinki Act were very professional and hard working people to be forever respected and remembered. They did accomplish the mission that seemed to be a tall order at first glance.

It’s hard to understand how dangerous an unfettered arms race is. US politicians may underestimate it. It’s true, the US has a much larger GDP but Russia’s military programs are much less costly and much more efficient. Russia gets a bigger bang for its buck. This is the reality the US has to reckon with, whether it likes it or not.

It’s more blessed to discuss the issue with professional military, especially those who are retired and free to express their opinion. Due to a lot of reasons, the issues of arms control are not seriously addressed by officials. That’s when a dialog between retired military professionals and pundits comes in handy.

The US is returning to the George W. Bush’s days when the administration tried to avoid binding treaties. The logic behind it was that any binding treaty can be breached, so why tie one’s hands? Anything can be done in good faith. But administrations come and go. Different people construe differently what has been agreed on. You cannot depend on the good will of personality. Only a binding, written agreement can guarantee the efficiency of verification procedures. And it is better to be ratified to codify the confidence building provisions agreed on.

There is one more aspect of fundamental importance. If the two leading military powers have failed to curb strategic nuclear forces’ race, there is no chance hypersonic weapons, space-based systems, long-range conventional missiles and cybersecurity warfare activities will ever be controlled. Arms race will spread to other domains.

The “races” in various domains will sap the resources. We’ve already seen that. And then we’ll have to start from scratch like our predecessors had to do. But this time there is no guarantee we’ll manage. The world has become too complicated.

One thing is evident – the arms race unleashed by the United States will not make it stronger. Remember the problem of national debt? And one more thing – the US will be forever held responsible for what’s going to happen. The history teaches that the people who control deadly weapons are wise. Those who refuse to do it are… otherwise. It’s blessed to think twice before taking the decision to dismantle what has been created with so much blood, sweat and tears than jump the gun and then pay dearly for the mistake that could have been easily avoided.

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  • Manuel Flores Escobar

    Deploy cruise and ballistic missile in Poland or Rumania is a dangerous step..similar if Russia deploy nuclear Subs in Venezuela to patrol caribean sea and gulf of Mexico…or to deploy Iskander M/K or Kalibr silos in Chukotka Russia which cover all Alaska( 1500km)….deploy Kalibr missile silo in Nicaragua ( 1600 km to US coast)….

    • James

      ….or Cuba, Venezuela.

  • Sinbad2

    This will be a test for European free will, will they allow the US to use Europe as a battlefield against Russia?

  • javier

    apparently what’s good for the nuclear bomb builders is good for murika

  • Tudor Miron

    Good article.

  • Sephy

    Fuck the treaties, and go ballistic.

    • hope springs eternal.

      Go ballistic on the US and Israel…peace!

      • Sephy

        Yep

  • Garga

    Do Europeans realize what it means for them? With the level of insanity in the US leadership, this moves seals the fate of millions in Europe and elsewhere. The US just started another 1962 crisis, but much worse.

    3 beliefs of the American “think-tanks” and leadership should make everybody on the planet nervous:
    – The US mainland is immune to intermediate range ballistic missiles, the Europe is not, so who cares?

    – A nuclear confrontation is worth it, if Russia is hurt more than the US, no matter how many cities and how many millions turn to dust.
    – Pre-emptive strike, baby! A nuclear one even better.

    Deranged leaders of the US think the time is against them to subdue Russia and China even with a pre-emptive attack. If they manage to bring Russia to her knees, China (and the rest of the world) will follow but with the pace Russia is modernizing their defence this goal seems more lost with every passing day. There’s no place for co-existence and mutual respect in their minds, you’re either under their command or you’re the enemy.

    That’s why they put ABM systems in Romania and Poland (their excuse being Iran’s non-existent ICBMs) and south Korea and Japan (a handful of alleged DPRK’s ICBMs) in addition to the systems in Alaska and elsewhere, to prevent a Russian (and Chinese) retaliatory strike.
    ICBMs are good and all, but Russia is able to detect them and maybe able to bring some of them down, however a Russian retaliation is inevitable as they have a minimum 30 minutes (from launch detection to being hit) to do it.
    With medium range missiles installed in eastern Europe, south Korea, Japan, Norway, Georgia (and they can, ‘stans of central Asia), this time shrinks to about 5 minutes and it will be unlikely that Russians manage to fire their missiles before their silos and launchers are being hit. A very good option for the crazies specially considering Russia doesn’t have any MRBMs near the US mainland.

    The result? We can bet that Russia will target the countries which the launches originated from, I’d do it, you’d do it but those aren’t US, so screw ’em. There are other options for Russia, no doubt but we’re talking about thousands of missiles, so a dozen of submarines or ships aren’t game-changers. Naturally all this makes Russia nervous and “jumpy” as it’s too risky to ignore a detection and not enough time for further investigation to make sure.
    Maybe it’s what the US is really after, forcing Russia to act upon the launch of some decoy missile, a false detection of hundreds of launches by using EW means with real retaliatory action. How would the world react if Russia obliterates a little innocent eastern European country, where the fake launches originated from?

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      The countries in question are already targeted since Medvedv presidency. Not only that, but they have been named as well. They are no innocents in this game of globalization and the world who is exactly the world? The sheep that follow the globalist in what ever they say and believe what ever they are showing on their screens? Irrelevant clones so who cares how they react or say?

  • John Brown

    I agree with this completely.

    “Russian naval ships with nuclear tipped cruise missiles on board could anchor in the countries like Venezuela or Nicaragua on a rotational basis. Long range aviation bombers could use air bases there too.”

    Russia must threaten the continental USA and its slave master Israel.
    Russia should also put such missiles in Syria etc. aimed at Israhell with massive 100 megaton warheads like the Russian nuclear torpedo then there will be instant peace.

    • hope springs eternal.

      Brilliant..do it already!

  • seawolf

    At the moment Europe has no capacity to dare its sovereignty. The question is if it will ever get that capacity.

    • Brother Ma

      Never . The Euros are gelded stallions.

  • Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

    EU should make their own INF type treaty with Russia, this will force US/NATO to remove their missiles from the region

  • Brother Ma

    The US only held to treaties for at most forty years from WWII.

    Ask the American Native Peoples what they think of Yankee treaty-writing.

  • Brother Ma

    So Murica is allowed to have the Monroe Doctrine and noone else is allowed to have power in the Americas….but Russia..no it is not allowed!

    Who says the Pharisees are extinct…they all became Neocons .