Yet again, the Russians are working to strengthen their position prior to NATO’s Chicago summit coming up in May.
Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Security and Disarmament Department at the Foreign Ministry, stated that Russia’s withdrawal from the New Strategic Reductions Treaty (New START) “cannot be excluded.” Moscow primarily objects to the expansion of U.S. missile defense program.
The preamble of New START recognizes the interrelationship between strategic offensive and defensive arms. Moscow has been using this link to argue that expansion of U.S. missile defense capabilities, especially in Eastern Europe, undermines the viability and effectiveness of the treaty. Moscow points out that a similar link had been found in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was based on the argument that it is okay to offer your adversary a free ride to kill millions of people in the name of “strategic stability.”
It is not 1972 anymore, however, and there are other bad guys with long-range ballistic missiles in Iran or North Korea who want to kill Americans and blackmail U.S. allies. If Russia withdraws, it would lose one of its valuable vehicles for arguing for restrictions of U.S. missile defenses.
Occasionally, Russia accompanies its threats of withdrawal from the treaty with a threat to aim its nuclear weapons on U.S. or allied territory. This should serve as a wake-up call for opponents of the missile defense program. There is no question that the U.S. should free itself and its allies from such blackmail and protect all from accidental or deliberate launches.