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US on course to end INF Treaty, contain Russia

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The US has embarked on a deliberate course of ending the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in order to remove all obstacles for containing Russia on the international arena, experts told TASS (Russia).

Deputy head of the Department of European Security at the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Dmitry Danilov said that after Donald Trump's election as US president, Russia hoped for resolving problems associated with the INF Treaty. "We offered not just to exchange our concerns, and not only on the INF Treaty, but also on such issues as Russia's questions to the US about the situation with missile defense. We also offered to work specifically on addressing those concerns in joint expert groups and commissions, to discuss ways to resolve those concerns, to determine whether they have any grounds," Danilov said.

"The US did not go down this path not because the Trump Administration didn't want to do it. Instead, it was because the internal situation in the US and the position of the Congress toward Trump himself , toward Russia and specifically toward the Treaty, did not presuppose those steps," the expert continued. "The US side has embarked on a course of dismantling the Treaty. In this case, we are not talking about the US attempts to resolve their concerns. On the contrary, they are trying to use their concerns to withdraw from the INF Treaty," he said.

According to an expert from the Center for Security Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences Konstantin Blokhin, US actions "fall in line with the logic of intensifying confrontation in Russian-US relations, which has a systemic nature, especially in the military-technical, economic and informational-psychological sphere."

"It is obvious that this Treaty creates obstacles for both the US and Russia, since everybody already has intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. China, Pakistan, India have them, but Russia and the US don't," Blokhin explained. "This is why prerequisites are being created for withdrawing from this Treaty, and this will remove all obstacles for the US," he added.

Russia's response
Danilov said Russia can respond proportionally if the US ends the INF Treaty. "Russia has military-technical capabilities to respond. So if the Treaty is destroyed, we should take appropriate measures associated with changing the military-operational landscape in Europe," he explained.

Blokhin noted that the US will thus be able to increase their capabilities in detaining Russia and will try to drag Russia into an exhausting arms race. "However, our breakthroughs with hypersonic weapons nullify and negate multi-million US investments into the military-industrial complex," the expert said. "This allows us to win this arms race in advance, without even entering it," Blokhin added.

Stakes for Europe
Russia can also respond by deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles at its borders. This will directly affect European security, as European countries will once again risk becoming the ground for Russian-US confrontation. In this situation, European countries can potentially become Russia's partner in attempts to preserve the INF Treaty.

"For Europe, consequences might prove extremely negative from the point of view of risks and damage not only in the military sphere, but also in the framework of global balancing, including Euroatlantic relations and ties within the European security system," Danilov stressed.

At the same time, the US is being very active on the European theater as well. "Potential opposition of European countries to the US on the INF Treaty makes Washington bring to NATO's multilateral platform the issue of Russia's alleged violations of the Treaty conditions. Thus, the US is promoting their own withdrawal from the INF Treaty. Taking into account Europe's position, the US is moving the discussion of this issue to the multilateral format, in this case in the framework of NATO," Danilov explained. "By doing this, the US is once again trying to convince their European allies to take their side," he concluded.

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