June 7, 2020 in Current Events by Taylor Linzinmeir (updated on June 7, 2020)
The document outlined Russian policy on its nuclear deterrent policy and was published online. It describes the situations that could justify a response with nuclear weapons. According to the document, these situations include the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies, as well as attacks with the use of conventional weapons that “threaten the very existence of the state”.
Additionally, the document states that Russia could use its nuclear arsenals if it simply gets “reliable information” that suggest the launch of ballistic missiles targeting Russia or its allies. It also named the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as a main military threat to Russia, according to the RIA news agency.
It appears that Russia is trying to send a message to Washington, fearing that they could take down key military assets and government infrastructure without even having to use atomic weapons. This comes amid arms control tensions between Russia and the United States. Tensions have risen over a variety of different reasons, including the Ukrainian crisis, controversy over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as over the future of New START – the last major arms pact regulating Russia’s nuclear arsenals. It limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each.
In May, United States President Donald Trump disclosed he was planning to leave the Open Skies Treaty, which was negotiated 30 years ago by President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Open Skies Treaty allowed for nations to fly over other nations’ territories with the help of sensory equipment that assured the aircraft were not preparing for military action. This move is cited by some as evidence that Trump plans to withdraw from the New START treaty unless China joins. The New START treaty expires in February.
Despite the fact that the U.S. government disclosed Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Open Skies agreement, Trump is leaving open the possibility for negotiations with Russia that could keep the U.S. as a participant in the agreement. “There’s a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” Trump said outside the White House. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to pull out and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal.”
Trump’s aides said that this seems unlikely even though the U.S. arms negotiator Marshall Billingslea told the New York Times that the U.S. plans to have an in depth discussion with Russia over the future of New START. The Chinese did not appear to be involved in the first meeting, but Billingslea said he was “confident” they would ultimately join.
This is the third time that Trump has renounced a major arms control treaty during his presidency. He abandoned the Iran nuclear accord two years ago, and he also left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year. When he left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he was convinced Russia would try to seek a new deal. They did not.