On June 4 a portion of a report by Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was declassified, in which he claims that Washington is considering deploying cruise missiles with nuclear warheads in Europe as a response to Russia’s alleged “violations” of theIntermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, which the United States and Soviet Union became party to back in 1987.
Four days later a similar statement was made by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, whoannounced London’s willingness to once again accept US nuclear missiles, which were removed from British bases in 2006. In so doing, the United Kingdom has joined those who are criticizing Moscow for an “offense” that the Russians have never committed at any time or in any place.
The fact is that the new Russian R-500 operational and tactical cruise missile, which is mentioned in the American military documents, does not fall under any of the categories listed in the INF. That treaty required the destruction of two classes of nuclear missiles: ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles of “intermediate- and shorter-range,” meaning able to travel 1,000-5,500 km. and 500-1,000 km., respectively. The new Russian cruise missile in question has a maximum range of less than 500 km. The Russians have not officially released any other information regarding its range. Nor have the Americans officially issued such information. In addition, the US delegation did not file any specific complaints about the missile during the special US-Russian consultations on arms control held last fall and this past spring. They just claimed that the Russians have tested “some kind of missile and they know what we are talking about…” But this is not a serious conversation. As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted on June 9 of this year, “We are ready to examine any concrete evidence that gives the Americans reason to think that we have violated something.”
Russia’s next-generation intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile mentioned by the US (the RS-26or Rubezh) has a range of over 5,500 kilometers and is also not subject to the INF’s restrictions, since that treaty does not apply to nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of over 5,500 km. The numbers of those missiles are to be reduced principally through other agreements, such as strategic offensive reductions treaties.
Washington launched an extensive propaganda campaign a few years ago to discredit Russia in response to some type of INF “violations,” but has not yet provided any evidence of such “violations” by the Russians. That was the situation in January, July, and November of last year, when US officials made unfounded allegations in this regard against Moscow. And the same scenario is being played out again this year.