US, Russia suspend INF Treaty

• The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banned both countries from using short- and medium-range missiles.

• Last week, US President Donald Trump announced the US would leave the pact, which it has long accused the Russians of violating. Russia then did the same.

• The moves have raised concerns about a new arms race.
• The INF was signed in 1987, during the Cold War, to ease a crisis in which US and Soviet missiles were placed within range of European capitals.

What is Russia planning?

• On Tuesday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the aim was to create new land-based missiles within the next two years.

• Ground-launched missiles were banned under the INF, but not sea- or air-launched ones, which Russia already possesses. These can then be used to create the new systems.

• Mr Shoigu said the US was already violating the accord: “[The US] are actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500km, which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations.

• In this situation, the Russian president has set the task for the defence ministry to take tit-for-tat mirrored measures.

Why did the US pull out of the pact?

• The Trump administration has expressed concern at the threat posed by Russia as well as countries outside the INF, in particular China.

• Announcing that the US was suspending its involvement in the INF and would leave it completely in six months, President Trump said: “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other.”

• The US accuses Russia of several violations, including claims that a new Russian missile falls within the 500-5,500km (310-3,400 miles) range banned by the treaty.

• But Russia says it is the US that has broken the pact, and says Washington is using false allegations as a pretext to withdraw from an agreement it never wanted to be part of.

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Mains Paper 2: International Relations

Prelims level: INF Treaty

Mains level: Key highlights of the Treaty

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