With the withdrawal from the bilateral Treaty on Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, the United States is stepping up work to create non-nuclear land-based missiles. This is stated in the statement of the head of the Pentagon Mark Esper. The American side justifies its step by claiming that Russia allegedly “repeatedly” violated the terms of the agreement limiting the creation and deployment of missiles with a range from 500 to 5.5 thousand km. This statement is repeated several times in the text published on the website of the American defense ministry.
The statement also notes that “in the light of Russia's non-compliance with the conditions” of the INF Treaty, the Pentagon began scientific and engineering research aimed at creating “mobile, non-nuclear ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile launch systems.”
Now these developments are at an early stage, but after the release of the INF Treaty, the defense department “will begin to fully develop ground-based non-nuclear missiles, which will be a rational response to Russia's actions and part of the measures to expand the combined forces non-nuclear arsenal (NATO . - RT ).”
Indeed, back in August 2017, US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told an interview with the Russian edition of Kommersant that American specialists "are beginning to explore possible military solutions for building a system of medium-range missiles based on land basing", which could balance the advantage that Russia at the expense of the deployment of proscribed detachments of weapons.
As the American diplomat explained at the time, such preparations did not violate the terms of the treaty in force at the time: the INF Treaty only restricted the creation and deployment of medium-range and shorter-range missiles, and scientific and design work did not fall under its effect.
Recall that the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles was officially terminated on August 2 at the initiative of Washington.
The US administration claims that it was Moscow that was the first to violate the treaty signed by the countries in 1987, creating a missile for the Iskander OTRK 9M729 - a modernized version of its predecessor - 9M728. The flight range of the Iskander is 480 km. However, Washington believes that the Russian side underestimates this figure, and in fact, the range of the missile allegedly exceeds 500 km.
- Missile for OTRK Iskander 9M729
- © Maxim Shemetov / File
In order to prove the groundlessness of such accusations, the Ministry of Defense of Russia even demonstrated to the public transport missile launch containers. From the presented schemes it followed that the length of the whole structure was increased only at the expense of the warhead, and not at all of the engines and fuel tanks.
However, this did not convince the White House - Washington demanded that Moscow destroy all 9M729 missiles.
For its part, Russia has long accused the United States of the fact that missile defense systems Mk 41 deployed in Eastern Europe can be used for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles whose range falls under the INF Treaty. However, the American side rejects these allegations, stating that the Aegis Ashore ground defense launchers can only be used to launch SM-3 interceptor missiles.
Earlier this year, Washington announced its withdrawal from the INF. Russia, in turn, also announced its readiness to withdraw from the contract - a bill on the suspension of the INF Treaty was submitted to the State Duma at the end of May, and in early July, the President signed it.
As Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier, Russia intends to respond to the actions of the United States, which have already begun to build medium-range and shorter ground-based missiles. First, we are talking about the ground-based version of launchers for cruise missiles "Caliber", which until recently were produced only in the "marine" modification.
“The second is also the discovery of a research and development project that turns into development work on the creation of ground-based complexes of medium-range and shorter-range hypersonic ballistic missiles,” said Shoigu, speaking in February at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
According to experts, the fact that the Ministry of Defense intends to create from scratch installations for ground launches of medium-range and shorter-range missiles is further evidence of the artificiality of the charges made by the United States.
“In recent years, Russia has massively built small rocket ships armed with Caliber. If Moscow really wanted to destroy the INF Treaty, then it would not invest big money in the construction of such ships, ”said Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, in a comment by RT.
Analysts also suggest that the Pentagon is now moving in approximately the same direction - with high probability, speaking of the creation of non-nuclear land-based missiles, US officials imply ground-based versions of existing Tomahawk cruise missiles. The difference is that the United States already has a ground-based launcher for these missiles - we can talk about the Mk 41.
“The United States can quickly create a ground-based cruise missile, and it will take two to three years to develop ballistic missiles of such a range. It is important to note that the sketch study of such missiles began in the United States before 2017, ”explained Victor Murakhovsky.
The threat of military conflict
It should be noted that the White House’s plans to build medium-range and shorter ground-based missiles encounter serious resistance within the country. From the very beginning, the Democratic Party called Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty as erroneous. In March of this year, a group of Democratic congressmen even introduced a bill proposing to ban the financing of works on the creation of arms prohibited by the treaty.
As reported on August 2 by Reuters, citing sources in American official circles, the controversy on this issue has not yet been resolved between the Democrats, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, and the Republicans.
- Tomahawk rocket launch
- © US Navy / ZUMAPRESS.com
However, as Sergey Yermakov, an expert of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, noted in a conversation with RT, both Republicans and Democrats are in favor of regaining the role of world hegemon to the United States.
“Representatives of the Democratic Party are more inclined to attach greater importance to international treaties and oppose Trump. But, although the paths of the Democrats and the Republicans are different, they lead to the same goal, ”explained Yermakov in a conversation with RT.
In the 1980s, the deployment of US medium-range missiles on European territory was the peak of the Cold War. NATO planned to deploy 108 Pershing and 464 Tomahawk missiles in 1983 to Western Europe. The corresponding decree was signed by Ronald Reagan, his administration explained its actions by the need to force Moscow to remove RS-10 Pioneer complexes from the western borders of the USSR. Negotiations are at an impasse, and, as the Western press wrote in those years, the world "hung on the verge of a nuclear apocalypse."
The crisis ended with the signing of the INF. Nowadays, the situation is aggravated by the fact that in recent decades, NATO has come close to the borders of Russia, experts say.
As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on August 2, the alliance does not plan to deploy new missiles with nuclear warheads in Europe after the collapse of the INF Treaty.
“We do not want a new arms race. We have no intentions to deploy new ground-based nuclear missile weapons in Europe, ”Stoltenberg said during a briefing.
But, according to political analysts, the leadership of NATO is cunning, making such statements. As Sergey Yermakov noted, the Alliance Secretary General’s pledges to such declarations are an understanding that the majority of the participating countries will be against the deployment of missiles on their territory. However, in practice, Washington has a decisive voice in NATO and can lobby for the decisions he needs.
According to Viktor Murakhovsky, today the possible deployment of American non-nuclear missiles of ground-based cruise missiles in Europe is the lesser of the evils.
“The United States has the largest arsenal of sea-based and air-based cruise missiles, the deployment of land units will not affect the situation radically. But the appearance of ballistic missiles in Europe will affect, because such missiles have an approach time lower by an order of magnitude than cruise missiles. And, given the collapse of contacts between NATO and Russia to prevent military incidents, such a move could increase the threat of a military conflict, ”said Victor Murakhovsky.
However, these risks are of little concern to the current US administration, experts say.
“US military strategists are now thinking about how to win in major regional conflicts, making scenarios for the use of medium-range and shorter ground-based missiles. After the collapse of the INF Treaty, Washington was untied, and the accusations against Moscow were just a pretext, ”concluded Sergey Yermakov.