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Dissolving the INF Treaty: a look from Germany

Forces within NATO are pushing the alliance to unleash a big war in Europe

Dissolving the INF Treaty: a look from Germany

On February 2, 2019, the deadline of NATO’s ultimatum to Russia to remove its 9M729 cruise missiles (NATO designation SSC-8) from the Kaliningrad region expired. Russia refused to do it, so the US are starting the pull-out process from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). The West grounds its position by an unproved claim of Donald Trump that the new Russian missiles have the range of 500-5,500 km, which is banned under the INF Treaty. By acting this way, the US and NATO fully shift the blame for the destruction of the European security architecture on their fictional enemy, which is Russia.

As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), an influential German newspaper, noted that actually means the termination of the INF Treaty on the base of assumptions no one even verified. According to the newspaper, “there is a wide spread point of view among the European military that the US is actually not very interested in maintaining the Treaty. This document obliges only the US and Russia to abandon the medium range nuclear missiles, while other powers, for example China, which is now expanding its military might, are capable of continuing the development of such systems. The goal of the United States may imply replacing the INF Treaty with a new multilateral agreement. Otherwise the US will be able to create new medium range ground-based missiles on its own.”

Obviously, after a number of the US withdrawals from international agreements such as the Paris agreement (the climate deal), the Iranian nuclear deal it is another political maneuver, which is fraught with tragic consequences to the entire world.

The current situation with the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty reminds of the NATO double-track decision of December 1979, when it announced that the SS-20 Soviet missiles in Europe threatened the security of the alliance and offered the USSR holding talks on removal of those missiles. Otherwise the US would deploy its Pershing II ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles in Western Europe. 

NATO claimed that those systems were intended for equipping the alliance. It was double dealing because when NATO was comparing the military potentials of the West and the East in Europe it remained silent about the medium range nuclear missiles the UK and France had. Moreover the submarines of the US Sixth Fleet deployed in the Mediterranean Sea carried nuclear missiles – in 1956, the Spiegel magazine dubbed them quite correctly as Russians’ nightmare.

Under the pretext of equipping of the alliance NATO shifted the blame for the growing threat of war to the Soviet Union. The propaganda trick was obvious: the alliance proceeded from the fact that the USSR would never accept the ultimatum and as a result NATO will have a free hand. But those plans failed. It turned out that the Perishing and Tomahawk missiles would not protect Western countries, but would only bring the nuclear war closer, make it even more likely, especially in case of a technical error. The short flight time of medium-range missiles did not allow the Soviet air defense to determine whether the threat was real or fake. In any case, the Soviet Union would have to respond with a nuclear strike in order not to fall prey to the "decapitating" attack of the enemy.

The threat of a nuclear collision and the coming end of civilization led to the emergence of a powerful anti-war movement in Europe. This movement, as well as the “perestroika” (reforms) in the USSR in late 1980s, created the conditions for the signing of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles in Europe.

Many Western researchers, including representatives of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) share the view on the accusations the United States and NATO are making against Russia. For example, in an interview with the t-online portal, expert of the International campaign for abolishing nuclear weapons (ICAN) S. Hach doubted that the Americans really inspected the Russian missiles for their range of destruction. This fact is flatly denied by the Russian military. At the same time, according to experts of the SIPRI in Stockholm, the American missile defense system in Romania and Poland, which was declared as defensive, can be easily readjusted for offensive actions against Russia.

The question which comes to mind: if NATO, in its claims to Russia, does not proceed from the reasons it declared, what are the true motives behind the accusations?

It seems that certain forces in NATO are deliberately pushing the alliance towards a big war in Europe. In particular, this is proved by the conferences the Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) holds every year. About 300 high-ranking military officials, including NATO's top command officials in Europe (SACEUR), as well as Western politicians and defense industry experts take part in these conferences.

The “Vector of the Future” report issued at the JAPCC conference in 2014, doubted the thesis that a big war in Europe would not happen again. The document directly indicated the regions where, in the opinion of NATO, the war could begin: the Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia — that is, in all the territories where the alliance can operate near the borders of Russia.

Anyway, NATO’s expansion to the East, which took place after the unification of Germany in 1990, manifests itself today as a peace threatening factor. Moreover, the expansion of the alliance is a violation of all the agreements that led to the unification of Germany. Then US Secretary of State J. Baker, according to his own protocol, promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that the NATO’s jurisdiction "would not spread to the East". He stated repeatedly that NATO “would not move a centimeter to the East.”

In 2017, the JAPCC conference held in Essen, Germany, which was held under the title “Deterrence,” NATO members discussed the anti-Russian strategy in connection with events in Ukraine. Their efforts were triggered by the referendum in the Crimea and the separation of the peninsula from Ukraine, which violated the Constitution of the country. However, in reality this was neither the first nor the only violation of the Ukrainian fundamental law. A few months earlier, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) violated the Constitution when it overthrew President Viktor Yanukovich and brought the pro-NATO government of Arseny Yatsenyuk to power. This was also a violation of the Constitution because the new government failed to receive a quorum of 75% of deputies. The German Bundestag did not leave those facts unnoticed. In March 2014, addressing A. Merkel, a lawmaker from the Left Party G. Gyzi said: “Ms. Chancellor, you say that the referendum in Crimea contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution. So, when it is in effect, and when it is not? When expelling President Yanukovych, it was not in effect, but during the referendum in the Crimea it should be effective suddenly. Please explain whether you fully recognize the Constitution of Ukraine or only partially, when you like it? ”

Proceeding from Russia’s “aggressive intentions”, the 2017 JAPCC conference concluded that deterring Russia with conventional weapons would be too expensive. In its documents NATO proposed lowering the threshold of nuclear war and consider the possibility of restoring the nuclear forces of medium range. This was one year before Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

It should be clear to every regular human person that as a result of nuclear war, all life in Europe will be destroyed. The collapse of the INF Treaty brings us closer to this scenario. It is necessary to stop and return almost thirty years ago to the Treaty on the Final Settlement with respect to Germany, which was called upon to end the “cold war”. Then, in 1990, Russia, the US, the UK, France, both German states agreed not to treat each other as adversaries and to strengthen international security, especially through arms control. Today, recognizing the fact that we have gone astray would be the first step towards peace. If we do not do this, we will only have to watch the hands on the clock, counting the time to a possible nuclear catastrophe.


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