The INF Treaty is in Russia's national interests, its denunciation will have extremely negative consequences for the Russian-American relations and for the situation in the world. At the same time, Russia still has the ability to develop and produce intermediate-range and medium-range missile systems, said Vladimir Batyuk, head of the Center for Military and Political Studies of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He gave an interview to www.valdaiclub.com in connection with the alleged US intention to withdraw from the INF treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
Does the INF Treaty correspond to the interests of international security? If the US withdraws from the treaty, does this mean the beginning of a new arms race? What are the consequences of such decision?
The INF Treaty is in keeping with Russia's national interests and the interests of international security. In the event of the Treaty termination the US and its NATO allies will be able to deploy medium-range missiles (both ballistic and cruise missiles) no longer in Western Europe (as it was in 1983), but in the Eastern European countries, including the Baltics. In this case, the flight-in time of these missile systems will be so short that it will simply not leave time for Moscow to take a decision to meet the missile attack. We should not forget that the INF Treaty in the eyes of the international community is almost the only symbol of the nuclear arms control regime preservation. If this symbol ceases to exist, the consequences can be very serious, especially in such a problematic area as the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. Acceleration of the arms race in that direction (where it is currently absent, at least between Russia and the US) will have extremely negative consequences for both Russian-American relations and the situation in the world as a whole.
Many countries are developing medium-range missiles, while Russia has destroyed many systems in accordance with the Treaty. Are there additional threats for Russia, especially if the INF Treaty is no longer valid?
Russia has not lost any competencies in the development and production of the intermediate- and medium-range missile systems, as evidenced by the successful use of 3M-14 Kalibr and X-101 cruise missiles in Syria. Moreover, a new Russian RS-26 "Rubezh" ICBM can hit objects located at a distance less than 5500 km from the starting position, and therefore the American side considers it as a medium-range ballistic missile. Thus, Russia CAN participate in the arms race in this area, it has the appropriate technological reserve. The only question is whether it is NECESSARY for our country?
Does Russia intend to denounce the INF Treaty in its turn?
Some authoritative (but retired) Russian military experts some time ago expressed their support for Russia's withdrawal from the INF Treaty. For instance, former chief of the General Staff General Yuri Baluyevsky repeatedly stated, that this Treaty was "harmful" for Russia. However, recently, when the US military and political figures began to talk about the need to withdraw from the Treaty (the latest statement of this kind is by congressman Mike Rogers, head of the commission on nuclear weapons, that for the United States it would be "irresponsible" to comply with the INF Treaty in a situation where Russia does not comply with it), such a rhetoric in Moscow has subsided. On the contrary, the Russian parliamentarians, from Viktor Ozerov to Alexei Chepa, denounced the statements of their American colleagues about the US withdrawal from the Treaty as "another manifestation of anti-Russian hysteria."
How Moscow can respond in case of an American withdrawal from the Treaty?
In case of the US withdrawal from the Treaty the response of the Russian side will largely depend on what measures the US will take. If the American medium-range ground-based missiles appear in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders (and the Americans can deploy such groups of missile systems, that can reach targets on the Russian territory, in Europe and in the Far East), Moscow could intensify military patrols of Russian surface ships and submarines, equipped with Kalibr missiles, in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans near the American coasts.
Russia Will Not Lose from the Denunciation of the INF Treaty
The medium-range missiles of the SS-20 type are much more necessary to Russia than for the United States. While Russia, in accordance with the 1987 treaty, destroyed its medium-range missiles, many other countries intensified their production and deployment.