Russia Suspends Arms Pact, Citing U.S. Missile Plan - 2007

Russia Suspends Arms Pact, Citing U.S. Missile Plan


President Vladimir Putin formally notified NATO governments on Saturday that Russia will suspend its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a key Cold War-era arms limitation agreement, in response to American plans to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe. The decision ratcheted up tensions over United States plans for a missile shield, which Russia opposes, but also reflected a trend of rising anti-Americanism and deep suspicion toward the West here as Russia's March presidential elections approach. Russia's suspension will take effect in 150 days, according to a copy of the president's decree posted on a Kremlin Web site. That delay leaves open the possibility of further negotiation on the 1990 treaty, which resulted in a huge wave of disarmament along the former East-West divide in Europe. Despite a Foreign Ministry statement that Russia would reject any limitations on redeploying heavy weaponry on its Western border, the Kremlin's move is not expected to radically transform the security situation. But the decision is a strong indicator that the smiles and warm embraces between Presidents Bush and Putin just a few weekends ago at the so-called "lobster summit" in Maine did little to soften the Kremlin's pique over proposals to build two American missile defense bases in former Soviet satellite states, Poland and the Czech Republic. So on Saturday, Putin reached for a powerful diplomatic tool to fend off what he has described as American bullying and NATO and European encirclement, both economic and military, that the Kremlin believes encroaches into a Russian sphere of influence. White House officials expressed immediate disappointment after the announcement from Moscow, but pledged to continue to meet with their Russian counterparts to resolve the dispute.

"We're disappointed Russia has suspended its participation for now, but we'll continue to have discussions with them in the coming months on the best way to proceed in this area, that is in the interest of all parties involved and provides for security in Europe," said Gordon Johndroe, the National Security Council spokesman. Critics of the United States' handling of relations with Russia have warned that the Bush administration was creating an environment in which the Putin government, emboldened by a flood of oil dollars and seeking to re-establish its status in the world, could pick and choose among its treaty obligations. After all, the Bush administration has put less stock in official treaty relations than many predecessors. Under Bush, the United States pulled out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty so it could pursue the goal of a global antimissile shield, the exact effort that has so angered Putin and his inner circle. Indeed, the Saturday announcement from Moscow was not much of a surprise, given Putin's earlier warnings. Bush administration officials routinely point to other significant areas of cooperation — on halting nuclear proliferation, on battling terrorism and combating drug traffic — so White House officials reject assessments that relations with Russia are on the point of rupturing. But while the Saturday announcement was, at least, unsettling to officials in Washington and in NATO capitals, senior policy analysts said it is likely only to strengthen the position of Putin's leadership clique among Russian voters in the spring elections. Anti-American posturing has played well with the public, and it is encouraged in the state media and through such means as leaflets distributed by Kremlin-sponsored youth groups. One depicts American warplanes loading body bags at a Moscow airport, for example. Putin's decree explained the decision to indefinitely suspend Russia's treaty obligations as caused by "extraordinary circumstances" that "affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures."

A separate statement by the Foreign Ministry identified these circumstances as unrelated to the missile shield plans — though Putin has linked the issues in previous speeches. In the most notable case, during a state of the nation speech to Parliament on April 26, Putin threatened to suspend observance of the treaty in response to the United States' abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and plans to deploy missile-shield elements in the Czech Republic and Poland. Still, Putin's threat in April, and his execution of it on Saturday, left some arms-control experts scratching their heads because the conventional forces treaty has no formal provision for a signatory nation to suspend observance. A nation can withdraw from the treaty without violating its terms, but only after notifying the other signatory countries 150 days in advance. The decree Putin signed on Saturday adhered to that time frame, but sought to apply it to suspension instead of withdrawal. The foreign ministry said this formulation complied with "international law." The Kremlin on Saturday offered six reasons for suspending the treaty, many of which reflected a deep bitterness in Moscow about what is perceived here as a string of broken promises as NATO expanded into the former Warsaw Pact countries after the fall of communism. They included a claim that NATO expansion into Eastern Europe had beefed up the alliance's military capabilities in violation of the treaty, a charge that NATO denied. Also, the statement said the new NATO member states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are not signatories of the treaty but have alliance weapons deployed on their territories. Russia maintains that NATO committed in 1999 to refrain from opening bases in new member states, though now the United States is building facilities in Romania and Bulgaria. NATO says these are training sites. In a statement, NATO said member countries would convene a task force on Monday to formulate a response.

"NATO regrets this decision," James Appathurai, a NATO spokesman, said in a telephone interview. "The allies consider this treaty an important foundation of European security. This is a disappointing move in the wrong direction."

He said the treaty has no provision for suspension, only withdrawal. "Nobody is going to be splitting hairs here and requiring Russia withdraw," he added. He also denied that NATO's eastward expansion left the bloc in violation of the treaty. "All of this falls into a larger Russian concern of encirclement," he said. The European Union called the treaty suspension "regrettable." Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said in a telephone interview: "We appeal to everyone to start talking. This treaty is fundamental for the stability and security of Europe." In Germany, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Russia's decision "was a real cause of concern." Members of Germany's governing coalition have repeatedly criticized the American missile shield plan, saying it could lead to just such a move by Russia and, perhaps, incite a new Cold War. A statement posted by Russia's Foreign Ministry said flatly that Russia would halt inspections allowed under the treaty and claim the right to redeploy heavy weaponry along its western and southern borders, but would do so only in response to any possible NATO redeployment. It also suggested that the suspension was Russia's first official rejection of the arms limitations treaties of the Soviet Union. A deputy foreign minister, Sergei Kislyak, said Russia was not "shutting the door on dialogue" on the treaty, leaving open the possibility of a negotiated retreat from the position announced Saturday. However, Russian commentators with ties to the Kremlin were quick to praise the suspension.

"Today's decision is not propaganda," Gleb Pavlovsky, a Kremlin-linked political analyst, said in remarks carried by Interfax. It comes "against the backdrop of the world's rearmament near our borders," he said. "If today's message is ignored, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty will be next."


Russia Threatening New Cold War Over Missile Defence

Kremlin accuses US of deception on east European interceptor bases

Russia is preparing its own military response to the US's controversial plans to build a new missile defence system in eastern Europe, according to Kremlin officials, in a move likely to increase fears of a cold war-style arms race. The Kremlin is considering active counter-measures in response to Washington's decision to base interceptor missiles and radar installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, a move Russia says will change "the world's strategic stability". The Kremlin has not publicly spelt out its plans. But defence experts said its response is likely to include upgrading its nuclear missile arsenal so that it is harder to shoot down, putting more missiles on mobile launchers, and moving its fleet of nuclear submarines to the north pole, where they are virtually undetectable. Russia could also bring the new US silos within the range of its Iskander missiles launched potentially from the nearby Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, they add. In an interview with the Guardian, the Kremlin's chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Moscow felt betrayed by the Pentagon's move. "We were extremely concerned and disappointed. We were never informed in advance about these plans. It brings tremendous change to the strategic balance in Europe, and to the world's strategic stability."

He added: "We feel ourselves deceived. Potentially we will have to create alternatives to this but with low cost and higher efficiency." Any response would be within "existing technologies", he said. As well as military counter-measures, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, also wanted "dialogue" and "negotiations", he added. The Bush administration says the bases are designed to shoot down rogue missiles fired by Iran or North Korea. Its proposed system would be helpless against Russia's vast nuclear arsenal, it says. But this claim has been greeted with widespread incredulity, not just in Russia but also among some of the US's nervous Nato allies. They include Germany, where the Social Democrat leader, Kurt Beck, warned last month that the US and Russia were on the brink of another arms race "on European soil". Defence experts say there is little doubt that the real target of the shield is Russia. "The geography of the deployment doesn't give any doubt the main targets are Russian and Chinese nuclear forces," General Vladimir Belous, Russia's leading expert on anti-ballistic weaponry, told the Guardian. "The US bases represent a real threat to our strategic nuclear forces."

The threat of a new arms race comes at a time when relations between Russia and the US are at their worst for a decade. In February Mr Putin accused the Bush administration during a speech in Munich of seeking a "world of one master, one sovereign". On Friday Russia's duma, or lower house or parliament, warned that the US's plans could ignite a second cold war. "Such decisions, which are useless in terms of preventing potential or imaginary threats from countries of the middle and far-east, are already bringing about a new split in Europe and unleashing another arms race," the declaration - passed unanimously by Russian MPs - said. The same day Russia ruled out cooperating with the US over the shield. "Despite certain signals received in recent days from the US side ... I see no political foundation for it," said Sergei Ryabkov, a foreign ministry spokesman. Moscow now had little choice but to take the bases "into account in our strategic planning", he said. Analysts said there was a common feeling in Russia that the US had reneged on an agreement after the collapse of the Soviet Union to abandon cold war politics. "Cold war thinking has prevailed, especially on the western side," Yevgeny Myasnikov, a senior research scientist at Moscow's Centre for Arms Control, told the Guardian. "Russia has been deeply disappointed by what has happened after 1991. Nato started to expand, and the US started to think it had won the cold war. We had hoped for a partnership. But it didn't happen."


Retired Generals Predict US-Russia War

Capitalising on the increasingly bellicose rhetoric in Moscow, a group of influential retired generals yesterday said the United States was preparing to invade Russia within a decade. Interviewed by Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia's biggest circulation newspaper, the four senior generals - who now direct influential military think tanks - said the United States had hatched a secret plan to seize the country's vast energy resources by force. "The US is both laying the ground and preparing its military potential for a war with Russia," said Gen Leonid Ivashov, a former joint chief of staff. "Anti-Russian sentiment is being fostered in the public opinion. The US is desperate to implement its century-old dream of world hegemony and the elimination of Russia as its principal obstacle to the full control of Eurasia." The generals said the conflict would inevitably spark a third world war, but predicted it would be fought only with conventional weapons or "low impact" nuclear missiles. Dismissed by some critics as the Cold War nostalgia of a handful of Soviet dinosaurs, such opinions nevertheless reflect a growing mood of nationalism both within the Kremlin and among many ordinary Russians wistful for lost superpower status. Engaged in a bitter dispute with Washington over its plans to erect a missile defence shield in central Europe, Vladimir Putin has increasingly used the kind of anti-American rhetoric many assumed had disappeared with the Cold War. Once more casting the United States as Russia's main threat, the Russian president, a former KGB spy, has accused Washington of "diktat" and "imperialism" - even going so far as to liken America to the Third Reich.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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