A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Keith B. Payne and Mark B. Schneider reaffirms the ongoing struggle between the United States and Russia over armament reductions, especially limitations on ballistic missiles that possess the capability to deliver nuclear weapons.
Russia has repeatedly violated arms treaties with the U.S. including “the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.” Payne and Schneider primarily highlight Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), passed in 1987.
With the hope of reducing threats to Europe and Asia, the INF treaty called for the mutual cessation of development and deployment of missiles within a given trajectory. Despite these guidelines, Russia has tested missiles that fall outside the parameters stated in the INF treaty. Russian failure to comply with this treaty has greater significance given that the U.S. has unilaterally followed the INF’s regulations—singlehandedly providing the Russians with a 10–1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons.
Despite the choice of a fuzzy bear as Sochi’s mascot, Putin actively promotes resentment of the U.S. among the Russian people. Putin’s hateful regime even encompasses the persecution of his people. Any attempt to engage in a diplomatic process with a foreign leader who sends political dissidents to labor camps and has time and again proven untrustworthy is not only futile but dangerous. Evidently, Putin esteems power. Therefore, the only way to ensure American security and deter a Russian attack is a clear demonstration of military—and in this case, ballistic missile defense—superiority.
The Obama Administration needs to convey a consistent and firm message to Russia. The Russians neither respected nor wanted Hillary Clinton’s cutesy gift of a red “restart” button. Rather than superimposing its ideas of nonproliferation on the Russians, the Administration needs to take Putin’s regime at face value.
Currently, Russia possesses the capability to strike the U.S. with a ballistic missile carrying a nuclear weapon in 33 minutes or less. Continued attempts to negotiate with the Russians will result in noncompliance and put Americans at greater risk. A healthy understanding of Putin’s disregard for international treaties and his devious national and worldwide record will help shape future policy and reverse harmful treaties in such a way as to provide the upmost security for the American people.
Rebecca Robison is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.