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There has been a running disagreement between Russia and NATO over the deployment of the missile shield facilities in countries bordering Russia that goes back to the Bush administration. Now during the greatly heightened tensions of the Ukraine crisis, Obama and Putin are raising the stakes in that debate.

Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach Russia said to be on point of leaving 1987 treaty, after Obama administration said it violated the accord with tests of R-500


Russia may be on the point of walking out of a major cold war era arms-control treaty, Russian analysts have said, after President Obama accused Moscow of violating the accord by testing a cruise missile.

There has been evidence at least since 2011 of Russian missile tests in violation of the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which banned US or Russian ground-launched cruise missiles with a 500 to 5,500-mile (805 to 8,851km) range. But the Obama administration has been hesitant until now of accusing Moscow of a violation in the hope that it could persuade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to stop the tests or at least not deploy the weapon in question, known as the Iskander, or R-500.

Washington has also been reticent because of the technical differences in definition of what constitutes the range of a missile under the INF treaty. That ambiguity now seems to have dropped away. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence analyst and columnist for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Russia has indeed broken the treaty by testing the R-500 which has a range of more than 1,000km.

"Of course, this is in gross violation of the 1987 treaty, but Russian officials including Putin have said this treaty is unfair and not suitable for Russia," Felgenhauer said. "The United States doesn't have [medium-range missiles] but other countries do have them, such as China, Pakistan and Israel, so they say this is unfair and wrong."

According to Kremlin-linked analyst Sergei Markov, Russia has a far greater need for medium-range cruise missiles than the |US, because military rivals including China are located near its borders and because Moscow lacks the Americans' long-range bombing capabilities.

"Russia would be happy to leave this agreement, and I think Russia is using the Ukraine crisis to leave the agreement," Markov said.

This does not sound like Putin is backing down when faced by the threat of US/EU economic sanctions. I am not enough of a military analyst to gauge the practical military implications if Russia abrogates this treaty. However, I think that the symbolic implications for geopolitical relations would be very significant. This is not just some cavalier gesture brought on by the face off over Ukraine. This has links back to the last days of the USSR and the balance of power. Also it didn't just happen this morning.

Russia concerned by U.S. proposal for missile shield in South Korea

Russia voiced concern on Thursday over a U.S. proposal to station elements of a missile defense shield in South Korea, saying the move could provoke an arms race in the region.

The commander of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea last month said he had proposed deploying a THAAD advanced missile-defense system to the country to counter the threat of North Korea's weapons capabilities.

"Such U.S. statements cannot but cause concern," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "This development will inevitably have a negative impact on the strategic situation in the region and could provoke an arms race in Northeast Asia."

The US is also trying to exert influence and control in East Asia. Russia is perceiving this as being hemmed in by US missiles from both the west and the east. One important question is how China views the proposed deployment in South Korea. It doesn't seem overly dramatic to say that this situation is getting messier and more complicated.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Somewhat OT (4+ / 0-)

    This just started circulating in the comment sections of German newssites:

    U.S. officials: Ukraine firing on rebels

    U.S. officials say Ukraine is firing on pro-Russian rebels with short-range ballistic missiles. Barbara Starr reports.

    Read the European view at the European Tribune

    by fran1 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:17:50 AM PDT

    •  It would be interesting to know (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, fran1, Johnny Q

      where Ukraine got the missiles from.

      •  Yeap! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, Johnny Q

        Wonder if we ever will be told?

        Read the European view at the European Tribune

        by fran1 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:26:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  the US claimed to know for sure (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fran1, TJ, snoopydawg, aliasalias, Johnny Q

        that the Russians were giving the anti-Kiev separatists anti-aircraft missiles. Even though they never produced a shred of conclusive proof.

        Now the Kiev regime is using far heavier ordinance, which should be far easier to track. But somehow I think the US will shrug its shoulders and insist it has no clue where these ballistic missiles are coming from.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:33:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well who cares? The Ukrainian govt has a right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to defend the country against rebels and separatists.  What, you're concnered that "it's just not fair" that Ukraine might have more powerful missiles than the rebels do?  LOL

          Lincoln had a real navy while Jeff Davis had a handful of ships here and there.  I wonder if progressives of the day were outraged that Lincoln used his more powerful navy to help put down a rebellion, because it "just wasn't fair" that Lincoln had more powerful weapons at his disposal.  /smh

        •  far heavier? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not sure that you understand what sort of weapon was apparently used to down MH17. This wasn't the typical manpad variety which has had governments concerned for years about proliferation and the threat that would deal to aviation. This was a very heavy system.

          But i'm wasting my time, surely. You're demanding conclusive proofs but all we'll likely get here are a bunch of anonymous know-it-alls making dubious assertions.

          All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

          by subtropolis on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 07:39:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  These are old Soviet missiles. SS-21. Ukraine (0+ / 0-)

        has quite a few of them.

      •  The Ukraine kept a variety (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, TJ, FG, limpidglass

        Of Scud A, Scud B and Frog missiles.

        In Soviet doctrine, short range and mid range ballistic missiles, replaced a Strategic Bombing force, and until the advent of GPS and Laser guided munitions, were more accurate and caused less collateral damage than a saturation bombing raid by B52's.

        In a Soviet/NATO conventional war, before it turned nuclear, both sides intended to use short and medium range ballistic missiles, in saturation volley against targets like command and control, airbases, collection points, supply and maneuver bottlenecks, like the Fulda Gap.

        These days, only Russia possesses the inventory to use Conventional Scuds and Frogs as intended, ( the US has their own massive stockpiles of their own models),

        For other users, their inventories are so small, and targets so limited, than they are only useful as a terror weapon against civilians.

        As far as I can tell, the R-500 does not violate the Treaty, but as a ramjet, supersonic cruise missile, with countermeasures and evasion abilities, and multiple targeting options, and precise targeting, designed expressly to hit US Anti Ballistic Missile systems and sites, their testing and deployment will worry the US Military.

        Sadly, continued testing and deployment of the Iskander system is the direct counter response to the US deployment of ABM systems on Russia's border and Bush's tearing up of the ABM Treaty with Russia.

  •  I don't think he will back down either (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, limpidglass

    Currently there is a story at Die Zeit that Russia wants to become more autarc.

    They are creating their own credit card system, they are planning to by less weapons outside Russia and build more themsselves, etc.

    It looks like the sanctions are working at least at Germany, it looks like export to Russia from Germany has fallen about 17% and smaller business are feeling the effect to. On commenter in a forum wrote that company in Germany he is working for has lost two big projects for Russia. Russia argued that with all the sanction his company is not considered reliable and able to deliver.

    Read the European view at the European Tribune

    by fran1 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:25:44 AM PDT

    •  The USSR created its controlled (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      economic bloc with the countries of the Warsaw pact and managed to more or less keep the economic balls in the air for over 40 years. Russia of today of course represents a much smaller economy than that conglomeration. I am also pretty sure that Putin is counting on some economic connections to the other BRICS in his calculations. It remains to be seen just how realistic those expectations might be.

      •  Very Realistic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon
        It remains to be seen just how realistic those expectations might be.
        China likes this tension between us and Russia. They will carry them just enough to make sure they don't implode but not too much as to be interpreted as being openly hostile to the U.S.

        China has been playing a long game for 30 years now while the rest of us spend ourselves into oblivion.

        The BRIC's have slowly but surely tried to start laying the foundation to establish a competing currency basket that will one day compete with the dollar.

        Realistically they are probably still 10-20 years away, but the dollar's days as the world's reserve currency are at least on the radar.

        That is China's ultimate goal. Once the U.S loses reserve currency status the economic shit hits the fan in this country.

        The 21st century is going to see the traditional super power global model supplanted by one in which the major powers like the U.S, China, India, Russia will be more limited in reach and their will be greater focus on regional spheres of influence.

        China does business with us, but they are not our friend. They will continue to support countries like Russia that make trouble for us, all the while they keep hoarding our technology and laying the groundwork with the rest of the BRICs for the end of the Petrodollar.

    •  I commented in the diarist's previous diary (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, PatriciaVa, TJ, aliasalias

      that the unstable structure of the EU and the eurozone meant that economic sanctions were likely to have unpredictable and serious effects.

      Germany is likely to respond to the economic pinch of sanctions by spreading the pain onto other eurozone countries, demanding more austerity from them in exchange for being bailed out in euros. This devalues the euro further and makes Germany a more attractive exporter to compensate for the loss of Russian markets.

      It's not politically palatable for Merkel to call for Germans to sacrifice their standard of living for the sake of Ukraine. She'd be booted in an instant if she did. Fortunately for her, she doesn't have to. She can demand the sacrifice of the other eurozone nations.

      This means more austerity for other eurozone nations, more human suffering, more political unrest, and greater instability in Europe. None of which are a good thing.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:41:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Or maybe the US is defending South Korea - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PatriciaVa, FG

    our ally and one of our largest trading partners - from North Korea's military dictator.

    The US is also trying to exert influence and control in East Asia. Russia is perceiving this as being hemmed in by US missiles from both the west and the east.
    If the US was concerned about containing Russia from the East, the anti-missile system would be in Alaska.

    Election Day is Nov 4th, 2014 It's time for the Undo button on the 2010 Election.

    by bear83 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:30:27 AM PDT

  •  Putin needs to be put out of power somehow (0+ / 0-)

    He's too dangerous to govern.

    •  What makes you think that someone else (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, limpidglass, blueoasis, Johnny Q

      running Russia would be all that different?

      •  Medvedev seems a lot more reasonable to me, and (0+ / 0-)

        more important, isn't a leftover form the Cold War era, an era that Putin seems nostalgic for.  Maybe Medvedev was just putting on an act, but he got along well with President Obama, having good conversations, eating at burger joints in DC, following each other on Twitter. hehe  Medvedev even gave a speech at a US university, where he cited Obama in friendly terms and spoke of reading some Obama's writings from when Obama was at Harvard.

        Putin, by contrast, has always been icy and stand-offish with President Obama.  

        So I'd rather Medvedev were in charge.  But it's possible that Medvedev's friendliness was just an act, I don't know.  We haven't heard much from him in years.

    •  Putin has double the approval that Obama has. (3+ / 0-)

      Russia is not going to sit still for American-inspired regime change attempts.  World War III lies that way.

      •  it was obvious to anyone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fran1, protectspice

        with a lick of sense that the coup against Yanukovych (and consequent accession of rabidly anti-Russian neo-Nazis to power in Kiev) and the subsequent US/EU behavior (sanctions, accusations of crimes, etc.) would engender a strong wave of nationalism and patriotism within Russia and rally people around the Russian president.

        I'd be shocked if Putin has ever enjoyed better poll numbers than he does now.

        When Bush had this much political capital, he invaded Iraq and reduced it to rubble. Putin is surely tempted to do something macho, but he is so far showing considerable restraint, considering that many Russian nationalists are probably giddy with excitement and are egging him on to march into Kiev and shut Poroshenko's mouth for good. It probably wouldn't be that hard to do--but the aftermath, that's the rub.

        He appears to be a statesman who's actually mindful of consequences--a rare thing in this day and age. On our side, we have Obama who can't be bothered to leave his golf game, who's abdicated foreign policy to the likes of Victoria "fuck the EU" Nuland and Samantha "finger jab" Power. With those clowns running things, WWIII is a pretty safe bet.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 11:20:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL, I chuckle when the Putin fanboys come out of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          charlatan, leftykook, subtropolis

          the woodwork to cheer their boy on.
          Get this through your head: As much as "progressives" hate President Obama, Putin stands for the exact opposite of everything progressives.  He's a fascist, he doesn't allow free press, he's an imperialist, he persecutes minorities like LGBT, he's an autocrat at the head of a plutocratic oligarchy.  Yet the American far left and far right love this guy (well, the American right loving him makes sense, since he's a right-winger).

          Putin is a "statesman mindful of consequences" who his "showing considerable restraint"?  Are you for real?  Your man Putin invaded a country, set up a referendum unrecognized by the government in question, then used the dubious results of that dubious referendum to annex a portion of the country.  And he's been trying to do the same thing elsewhere in that same country.

          And please stop with the RW talking points about Obama not leaving a golf game.  Good Lord, you Obama bashers and Putin lovers have absolutely no shame, do you?  There seems to be no point below which you will not sink to bash President Obama and praise the imperialist, fascist "strongman" Putin.  smh

      •  A dictatolr has double the approval, what a shock! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jdsnebraska, charlatan

        Putin has no oppositoin, he runs uncontested elections, and he controls Russia's media.  And he plays to the lowest instincts of the populace, jingoism, nationalism, anti-LGBT bigotry, etc.  Of course he has high approval.

    •  that's up to the russian people n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, limpidglass, happymisanthropy
    •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Putin plays to win and is shrewd, but his is also rational.  Could you imagine if the Russian analogue of Bush II or Netanyahu were in charge right now?

      He is not our friend; he is not our ally.  He is going to advance Russian interests as well as his own even at the expense of US interests.  But he is not going to do anything crazy, and I doubt he will do anything merely to poke us in the eye.  The way the world is right now, I'll take that.

  •  this is a pissing contest, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, fran1, blueoasis, TJ, aliasalias

    and it doesn't look to be ending well.

    My guess is that the Russians have been testing missiles as a protest against NATO missile defense systems in Europe, which they claim could be used against Russia. The US insists that they're there to protect Europe against an Iranian attack, but that doesn't seem a terribly plausible explanation; the Iranians are not likely to ever have that capability. And, should the current peace initiative with Iran succeed, there will be even less reason to have them there.

    Regarding the South Korean proposal: imagine if another country had military bases in the southern part of Baja California. How would the US react to an announcement that that country was installing missiles on those bases?

    Considering how we responded during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I'd say we would be far less understanding than China.

    One wonders if this announcement is part of the administration's "pivot to Asia," which never really stopped.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 10:36:16 AM PDT

  •  I see news reports today that say Japan is (0+ / 0-)

    imposing sanctions on Russia, too, now.

  •  The United States (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    would never provide weapons to any entity that would use them for anything but self defense. It is in the law.

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