Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has lashed out at American plans to walk out from the crucial INF treaty he signed with Ronald Reagan 30 years ago. This means a new arms race is on, he says, and Russia must not give up.
Gorbachev criticized the planned US withdrawal from the milestone Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), announced last week. On Thursday, the retired leader offered his take on what is happening between the US and Russia now and what is likely to come next in an op-ed published in the New York Times.
A new arms race has been announced. The INF Treaty is not the first victim of the militarization of world affairs
The first and only President of the USSR warns that Donald Trump's decision further dismantles the security system forged after World War II. The Republican president is keen to "release the United States from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles." And that, in turn, would see the demise of all accords that helped secure peace since the defeat of the Axis.
It's a path to war with no victory possible. "There will be no winner in a 'war of all against all' — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out." But Russia will not and should not sit idle and let this happen, Gorbachev says.
Faced with this dire threat to peace, we are not helpless. We must not resign, we must not surrender.
Russia should "take a firm but balanced stand" and reach out to international partners. "I hope that America's allies will, upon sober reflection, refuse to be launch pads for new American missiles," Gorbachev writes.
The INF treaty banned development and deployment of land-based missiles with ranges between 500 to 5,500 kilometers by the USSR and the USA. This allowed a radical denuclearization of the European continent and reduced the risk of an accidental nuclear conflict. It also paved the way for the reduction of longer-range strategic nuclear missiles, the last round of which came in 2010.
Washington and Moscow have been accusing each other of violating the terms of the INF treaty in various ways. As the US withdraws from the accord, denuclearization will be reversed, Gorbachev predicts.
"I am being asked whether I feel bitter watching the demise of what I worked so hard to achieve," he writes. "But this is not a personal matter. Much more is at stake."
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