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“Another Alarming Signal that the Entire US-Russia Nuclear Arms Control Regime is in Danger.”
Brian Taylor, a professor of political science at the Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and an expert in Russian politics, offers insight on the recent report that Russia has launched a new cruise missile.
“The report that Russia may have secretly deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile represents another alarming signal that the entire US-Russia nuclear arms control regime is in danger. In 2002 the George W. Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, a cornerstone of the superpower arms control system. Last week Donald Trump apparently told Vladimir Putin that the 2011 New START Treaty limiting long-range nuclear weapons favored Russia and was a bad treaty, even though this treaty was ratified by the US Senate, most experts value the treaty highly, and Trump allegedly had to ask an aide what the Treaty was when Putin raised the issue of its extension. Russia has long complained about the terms of the 1988 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which it regards as unfair to Russia given its current security environment. The new Russian cruise missile, if these reports are correct, would violate the INF Treaty.
Nuclear arms control is a deadly serious matter that reduces the risk to the United States of nuclear war, and the costs and risks of a nuclear arms race. Yet in December 2016 Trump made comments that seemed to welcome the possibility of a renewed nuclear arms race. Trump has proven repeatedly that he is ignorant of the most fundamental facts about nuclear weapons and nuclear arms control, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a complete novice on these issues, and the National Security Adviser was forced to resign today. These are not the best circumstances for a coherent response. The United States needs to pursue a resolution directly with Russia in the existing verification commission where such disputes are discussed – the US previously raised serious concerns about the development of this cruise missile. The new development today is the claim that the missile has now been deployed. The US needs to discuss this directly with Russia, and work together with our NATO allies on a potential political response if we cannot get a satisfactory explanation from Russia.”
Dr. Taylor is the director of the Center for European Studies at Syracuse University and author of State Building in Putin’s Russia: Policing and Coercion After Communism and Politics and the Russian Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1689-2000. He is currently working on a book about Putinism.
He is available to discuss current US-Russian relations and can be reached by contacting Jessica Smith, director of communications and media at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.5492, or by contacting Ellen James Mbuqe, director of news and public relations at Syracuse University, at email@example.com or 315.443.1897.