S. representatives just wrapped up another round of meetings with Russian counterparts to discuss arms control, including the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in February 2021.
But while New START looms large, Moscow’s ragged record on international security agreements can leave one concerned about proceeding with renewing, extending, or, even, creating any new pacts with Russia.
And understandably so.
Indeed, the Kremlin’s failure to comply with, and adhere to, a number of international bilateral and multilateral security agreements should be of serious concern, especially when violations are viewed in the aggregate rather than individually.
Russia’s recent non-compliance with no fewer than four major arms control and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) agreements paints a problematic pattern that should worry not only the United States but the international system, too.
For example, in 2019, the United States finally declared the Russian Federation in material breach of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a historic Cold War agreement.
Moscow began developing the INF-busting, road-mobile SSC-8 cruise missile (NATO: SCREWDRIVER/Russian: 9M729) as early as 2008. The missile was subsequently flight-tested and then deployed in 2017.
Then there are Moscow’s violations of the Treaty on Open Skies (OST). Going back a decade now, Russia has deliberately and routinely flouted the 30-plus nation aerial observation CSBM agreement.
For example, in 2010, Moscow started preventing OST flights from approaching to within 10 kilometers of Russia’s border with the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, considering the Russian-occupied territories to be independent states.
The Kremlin also restricts OST flights to 500 kilometers in length over the highly militarized Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, located between NATO members Lithuania and Poland.
Plus, in 2007, Russia suspended participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), an arms control agreement dating back to the Cold War. Concerns about Moscow’s departure from CFE have been elevated by its unannounced or “snap” military exercises.