Russia to Develop New Missile Systems in 2 Years After Treaty Pullout By Anna Smolchenko
Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday said the country must develop new types of missile systems in the next two years after Washington and Moscow ripped up a key arms control treaty.
The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement and on Friday President Donald Trump said Washington was starting a process to withdraw from the treaty in six months.
In a tit-for-tat move on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was also leaving the treaty and beginning work on new types of weapons that would breach the crucial Cold War-era agreement.
Many analysts say abandoning the 1987 treaty effectively signalled the start of a new arms race.
At a meeting with officials on Tuesday, Shoigu said Russia should develop two new missile systems in the next two years.
"During 2019-2020 we have to develop a land-based version of the seaborne Kalibr system equipped with a long-range cruise missile which showed good results in Syria," Shoigu told defence officials.
"Over the same period we will also have to create a land-based missile system with a long-range hypersonic missile," he said.
The defence minister said the plans had been approved by Putin.
The INF agreement forbids ground-launched, short- and intermediate-range missiles, but not those launched from the air or sea --- which Russia already has.
Defence experts say converting seaborne and air-launched missile systems for ground use will be advantageous for Russia since producing such missiles will be cheaper and quicker.
"The use of seaborne and air-launched missiles will allow us to significantly reduce the time needed to produce the new missiles as well as financing for them," Shoigu said.
He also tasked defence officials with extending the maximum range of ground-based missiles that are being developed.
Defence experts say because ground-based intermediate-range missiles are cheaper, Russia could theoretically place more of them within range of European targets.
Speaking to Shoigu on Saturday, Putin said Russia would not put any such missile "in Europe or other regions of the world" unless the United States did so first.
- 'Plenty to choose from' -
Military experts were hard-pressed to say what hypersonic missile Russia planned to develop in response to Washington's exit from the INF treaty.
In December, Putin said if Washington abandoned the treaty, Russia's seaborne Kalibr and air-launched Kh-101 cruise missiles -- as well as cutting-edge hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles would be converted for ground launch.
"We have plenty to choose from," pro-Kremlin defence analyst Igor Korotchenko told AFP, noting the Dagger missile was just one such system.
Korotchenko, who is editor of the National Defence journal, said it would be fairly easy to convert the seaborne Kalibr system for ground use as the defence ministry just needed to develop a land-based mobile launcher.
The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
Experts say the United States and Russia abandoning of the INF treaty delivered a huge blow to the global arms control regime and international security.
The last nuclear arms control treaty between Washington and Moscow -- the New START treaty -- expires in 2021 and most analysts expect it will not be extended.
"We are on the brink of a new arms race," said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a defence think tank in Moscow.
He said it was a contest Russia would not win.
"The losses will outweigh any ephemeral benefits," he told AFP, suggesting Russia may be at a disadvantage as Washington would develop and deploy new ground-based intermediate-range missiles quickly.
"The United States' industrial, scientific and technical might is stunning."
The top American diplomat says the United States has formally suspended its obligations under a Cold War-arms treaty with Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration has acted after what he calls ``Russia's material breach'' of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and its failure to come into compliance in the two months since Washington gave notice of its intent to withdraw from the pact.
Pompeo says in a statement the U.S. provided Russia with formal notice of the American withdrawal in six months, according to terms of the treaty.
He says the U.S. ``has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve'' the treaty. But he says Moscow ``continues to deny that its noncompliant missile system'' violates the accord.
Pompeo says Russia's actions have ``jeopardized the United States' supreme interests, and the United States can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia openly violates it.''
NATO member Latvia says it understands why the United States is pulling out of a major nuclear arms treaty as Russia has ``seriously violated'' it and urged Moscow to take ``constructive measures'' to preserve the treaty.
A statement from Latvia's Foreign Ministry published late Friday, ahead of Russia's Saturday announcement that it was abandoning the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, stressed that ``effective arms control is a vital element of Euro-Atlantic security.''
The ministry said a situation where the U.S. unilaterally complies with the treaty while Russia violates it ``by developing and fielding'' banned missiles ``is unsustainable and is not conducive to security in the Euro-Atlantic space.''
The Baltic country that borders Russia referred to Friday's statement by NATO foreign ministers to support Washington's decision to ditch the INF treaty.
Russia's foreign minister says that the U.S. pullout from a pivotal nuclear arms control pact has further upset strategic stability.
Sergey Lavrov spoke during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the U.S. decision to pull the plug on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty over alleged Russian violations.
Lavrov said that Washington has ignored Russia's offer to inspect a cruise missile that the U.S. claimed violated the pact. He charged that the U.S. itself has violated the treaty by deploying missile interceptors in Romania that use the launchers that could hold land-based cruise missiles.
The Russian minister said that another centerpiece nuclear arms pact, the New Start, which is set to expire in 2021, is also in trouble.
President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will abandon a centerpiece nuclear arms treaty, following in the footsteps of the United States, and that Moscow will only deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles if Washington does so.
Putin spoke after the U.S. announced Friday it was pulling the plug on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty over alleged Russian violations. Moscow denied any breaches and accused Washington of making false accusations in order to justify its pullout.
Following the U.S. notice of withdrawal from the treaty in six months, Putin said in televised remarks Saturday that Russia will do the same. He ordered the development of new land-based intermediate-range weapons, but emphasized that Russia won't deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the U.S. does so.
China's government has appealed to Washington and Moscow to preserve a nuclear arms treaty following a U.S. decision to withdraw.
The foreign ministry warned Saturday the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty might trigger ``adverse consequences.''
A ministry statement said: ``China is opposed to the U.S. withdrawal and urges the U.S. and Russia to properly resolve differences through constructive dialogue''
The Trump administration announced the decision Friday to shed what it sees as unreasonable constraints on competing with Russia and a more assertive China.
Other governments and arms-control advocates have warned the U.S. move might open the door to a new nuclear arms race.
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Russian Politicians Fault US Over Arm Treaty
Russian politicians are blaming the United States for what they say is the undermining of global security by ending compliance with a nuclear arms treaty.
But NATO says Russia is at fault for the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
The U.S. says it will stop observing the treaty as of Saturday and withdraw within six months came after years of dispute between Moscow and Washington. Each claims the other is in violation. In particular, the U.S. says a new Russian missile breached the treaty.
But Russia accuses the United States of unilaterally seeking to neuter the treaty and of resisting Russian attempts to resolve the dispute.
The head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia's parliament says the U.S. ``has taken another step toward its destruction today.''
The end of the treaty could serve Russia's strategic interests by removing any obstacle to deploying intermediate-range missiles that could reach Europe and China.
NATO says Russia is in breach of a key Cold War-era nuclear treaty, and the Western military alliance is urging Moscow to come back into compliance during the six months that remain before the United States abandons the pact.
The U.S. says it will suspend its obligations to the treaty on Saturday, and that if Russia doesn't come into compliance, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty ``will terminate.''
Minutes after the U.S. announcement, NATO nations urged ``Russia to use the remaining six months to return to full and verifiable compliance to preserve the INF Treaty.''
NATO members say the military alliance will continue to review the security implications of Russian missile development. They say NATO will take any ``steps necessary to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance's overall deterrence and defence posture.''
NATO says that if Moscow fails to destroy all new missile systems that Washington insists violate the treaty, ``Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the treaty.''
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the U.S. is pulling out of a treaty with Russia that's been a centerpiece of arms control since the Cold War.
The American withdrawal had been expected for months. It follows years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 pact, which bans certain ground-launched cruise missiles. Russia denies violating the treaty.
Pompeo says the U.S. will suspend its obligations to the treaty on Saturday. Pompeo says that if Russia doesn't come into compliance, the treaty ``will terminate.''
U.S. officials also have expressed concern that China, which isn't part of the treaty, is deploying large numbers of missiles in Asia that the U.S. can't counter because it's bound by the treaty.
It's a U.S.-Russia treaty that's been a centerpiece of superpower arms control since the Cold War. And its demise has some analysts worried about a new arms race.
An American withdrawal has been expected for months, and an announcement is expected later Friday. It would follow years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty.
It was the first arms control measure to ban an entire class of weapons: ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 kilometres (310 miles) and 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles). Russia denies that it has been in violation.
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
World Must Save Imperilled Nuclear Arms Pact: Nobel-Winner ICAN The world needs to "stop being passive" while the US and Russia decide whether to let a crucial nuclear arms control treaty collapse, the head of the Nobel prize-winning group ICAN told AFP.
Beatrice Fihn, who leads the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, described the potential failure of the pact as "an extremely dangerous situation".
The United States and Russia agreed to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.
But last month Washington gave Russia a 60-day deadline -- which ends on February 2 -- to dismantle missiles that it claims breach the INF treaty or the US would begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the deal.
"If this treaty falls apart and the US withdraws... then both these countries are free to put in place these intermediate missiles on the borders of Europe," Fihn said in an interview on Thursday.
She told AFP that the rest of the world had been "left on the sidelines just watching (US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin) and their egos" decide the fate of the vitally important treaty.
"We have to stop being passive," added the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
"This is not just up to Trump and Putin to solve but this is a global issue and all governments have a role to play."
Russia denies it has violated the treaty, which forbids ground-launched short- and intermediate-range missiles.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow is ready to work with Washington to save the agreement after bilateral talks in Geneva on the INF this week failed to resolve the impasse.