The US continues to renege on arms control agreements, so why should Russia trust Joe Biden’s latest moves?

Washington’s track record of fulfilling its treaty obligations is not exactly stellar.

this week, In a leaf At the 10th Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – held at the UN headquarters in New York – US President Joe Biden made a strong appeal to Russia on the need to resume arms control talks. “Today,” Biden said. “My administration is ready to rapidly negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026.” But, he added, “Negotiations require a willing partner who acts in good faith. And Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has undermined peace in Europe and is an attack on the fundamental principles of the international order.” In this context, Russia must demonstrate that it is ready to resume working with the United States on nuclear arms control.

Biden has made arms control central to his dealings with Russia. Indeed, one of his first major acts as president was to sign a five-year extension of the Obama-era New START agreement, which Allowed to slow down Under the Trump administration. “New START Treaty Extension,” Secretary of State, Antony Blankenannounced in a press release Released at that time, “Ensures we have verifiable limits on Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers by February 5, 2026. New START Treaty Verification System,” Blanken noted, “Enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and gives us greater insight into Russia’s nuclear posture, including through data exchange and on-site inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to monitor Russian nuclear forces and Allows monitoring of installations.”

Blanken then added a critical statement. “United States,” He declared, “The Russian Federation has assessed compliance with its New START treaty obligations every year since the treaty entered into force in 2011.”

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America needs to choose between new ICBMs and the nightmare of nuclear deterrence or meaningful disarmament through arms control.

Unfortunately, Russia cannot say the same about America. From 2018, Russia has blamed the US. Of “Replacing a certain number of Trident II SLBM launchers and В-52Н heavy bombers, such that the Russian Federation cannot confirm that these strategic weapons are not capable of using nuclear weapons for SLBMs or heavy bombers; “ Most importantly, the U.S. completed its exchanges in a way that made them easily reversible, which Russia believed thwarted the intent of New START, which was everywhere. There was a permanent decrease in nuclear weapons.

The United States rejected Russia’s accusation, noting that New START clearly did not require modifications to Trident II SLBM launchers or B-52H bombers. As long as the treaty was in force, the US argued, Russia could use its inspection provisions to confirm that the “disqualifying” target still existed. The Russians, rightly, believed that the US position violated both the spirit and intent of the treaty, a position that extended New Start.

But Russia’s problems with U.S. compliance are only one problem when it comes to deciding whether to trust Washington’s good will on arms control as a whole. The US has withdrawn from three core treaties in the past two decades—the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, and the Open Skies Treaty in 2020. America’s insistence on adapting the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to reflect post-Cold War realities led to its demise. Newstart is the last man standing when it comes to arms control agreements between Russia and the US.

Biden sought to further expand strategic arms control with Russia. Discuss the issue With President Vladimir Putin during the Geneva summit in June 2021. Both leaders agreed to proceed. “An Integrated Bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue”. That will do “Try to lay the groundwork for future arms control and threat reduction initiatives.” In fact, two such meetings took place on 28 July and 30 September 2021. After the conclusion of the second round of negotiations, the negotiators agreed to this. “Form two interagency expert working groups” to cover “Principles and Objectives of Future Arms Control” And “Capabilities and Initiatives with Strategic Implications.”

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Sergei Lavrov © Europe Newswire/Gado/Getty Images
Russia denies Biden’s claim of nuclear talks.

But then came the crisis in Ukraine, and talks gave way to the issue of security guarantees sought by Russia in the face of NATO expansion, which threatens to draw Ukraine into the Atlantic military bloc. In direct talks with the US, NATO and the OSCE in January 2022, Russia was repeatedly rebuffed in its attempts to negotiate a new European security framework that took into account its national security interests. had gone, as a result of which Russia had launched its special military operation. In Ukraine, the encouragement of President Biden To terminate the strategic stability negotiationsan action that essentially froze U.S.-Russian relations, at least in the area of ​​arms control.

Biden’s announcement about resuming talks with Moscow surprised Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “There has been no request to reopen this negotiation process,”Lavrov announced during a press conference in Myanmar that the West… “Having developed a habit of making announcements on the microphone and then forgetting about them.”

Despite the lack of advance notice from the US, Russia announced that it was ready to join arms control talks at any time, the sooner the better. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov During a conference call with the mediaannounced that Moscow has repeatedly said that such talks need to start as soon as possible because there is little time left. If the New START treaty expires without a replacement, Peskov said, “This will have a negative impact on global security and stability, primarily in the area of ​​arms control.” For this reason, Peskov noted, “We [Russia] have called for an early start of negotiations, but so far it has been the US that has shown no interest in substantive engagement on the issue.

Peskov further stressed that a new arms control treaty could be negotiated. “On the basis of mutual respect and taking into account mutual concerns”

Washington’s push for talks with Moscow, however, appears to be little more than trying to negotiate away an advantage Russia has in strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems that it has developed in recent years. obtained through Sarmat Heavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and Avangard hypersonic re-entry vehicle. Thus, the U.S. would isolate Russia from new systems that would cost billions of dollars to develop and field, while asking the U.S. to abandon only a handful that have not yet been fully tested and deployed. (The U.S. is set to spend hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming years to replace its Minuteman III ICBM, B-2 bomber, and Ohio-class submarine with a new missile. “The Sentinel”), a new bomber (The B-21), and a new submarine (the “Columbia” class). The high cost of these new weapons will likely become an issue in a tight economic environment, which may explain Biden’s push for new negotiations.

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The current U.S. approach to arms control negotiations seems one-sided, based on sacrificing existing Russian capability for future U.S. systems that are currently in development. In addition, the U.S. has a poor track record of treaty compliance (the ongoing controversy over New START ratification of Trident and B-52 modifications come to mind) or treaty compliance (US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty). , the INF Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty serve as a historical precedent).

When it comes to arms control, the American approach ignores the fundamental approach taken by Russia – that any such negotiations should take place as part of a comprehensive restructuring of the existing security framework. should fully address Moscow’s legitimate national security concerns. This includes issues related to missile defense (incl Two US facilities In Poland and Romania, intermediate nuclear forces (prohibiting the deployment of such systems on European soil), and non-strategic nuclear weapons (the US stockpile The B-61 bomb (Currently stockpiled in Europe, and could be released to non-nuclear NATO members during any potential conflict.)

The White House has flipped the script when it comes to advancing the cause of gun control. Former US President Ronald Reagan called a Russian “Trust but also verify”– when discussing their approach to implementing the landmark INF Treaty in 1987. At that time, “trust” was assumed, and the focus was on building appropriate verification systems to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Today, there is no trust between Russia and the United States, primarily because of the dismissive way the Biden administration has presented the issue of Moscow’s concerns over European security linked to NATO’s aggressive expansion. But America’s exceptional track record under current and past arms control treaties must also be considered. Even if Biden were willing to consider Russia’s concerns, Russia must answer the question of whether the Americans can be fully trusted as partners in disarmament.

As things stand today, the answer to that question is, sadly, “no.”