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Military analysts: West embarks on dangerous path of ruining nuclear deterrence

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond's speculations his country might agree to host US missiles armed with nuclear warheads and the United States' allegations Russia is in breach of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 are counter-productive moves that may ruin nuclear deterrence, polled military experts familiar with strategic nuclear potential specifics have told TASS.

Hammond mentioned the possibility the United Kingdom might agree to accommodate nuclear-armed US intermediate range missiles in a Sunday interview to the BBC. He said NATO members were watching with alarm Moscow's growing military activity, for instance, the deployment of "very substantial numbers of missiles in the Kaliningrad Region."

At the NPT review conference in New York last April US Secretary of State John Kerry reproached Moscow of "clear violations" of the INF treaty.

The director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's non-proliferation and arms control department, Mikhail Ulyanov, who led the Russian delegation, dismissed Washington's charges as groundless. Moscow has its own INF compliance grievances addressed to Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a certain point said Moscow had repeatedly invited the White House to enter into "specific consultations" on the theme only to hear nothing in reply.

Deputy director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Zolotaryov, believes that Hammond's statement should be regarded from the standpoint of anti-Russian rhetoric the West noticeably stepped up of late.

"Before it can bring its nuclear missiles to Britain Washington will have to quit the INF Treaty. In the meantime, the White House is by no means interested in this," Major-General Zolotaryov, retired, who at a certain point held a senior position at the Strategic Nuclear Force Staff, has told TASS.

"Russia complied with the terms of the INF treaty long ago. When Moscow and Washington in 2010 agreed further steps to reduce and limit strategic offensive armaments (START-III), the need for a special INF treaty compliance watchdog was overlooked. It was a major technical flaw. But when the Ukrainian crisis flared up, the US-led western world thought it was the right moment for a restart of Cold War-style saber-rattling again, so it began to utter threats it might deploy ground-launched missiles in Europe and US cruise missiles in Britain," Zolotaryov said.

"In order to settle mutual complaints the most appropriate step to be taken at the moment would be to resume the activities of the INF compliance commission. But it remains to be seen whether the United States is really interested in this. So far Washington has used every convenient pretext for stepping up threats against Russia," Zolotaryov said.

What makes the current anti-Russian rhetoric so risky is the West often acts on its words. In the course of the ongoing NATO military exercise Saber Strike-2015, underway near Russia's western border two US strategic B-2 stealth bombers - the New York and the Missouri, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons, arrived in Britain to land at the RAF Fairford base, which is the sole airdrome in Europe where planes of this type can land and undergo maintenance. US ships participating in NATO's exercises in the Black Sea repeatedly stayed in the area longer than allowed. Rhetoric will be rhetoric, but the Pentagon runs the risk of breaking the limits someday," Zolotaryov warned.

A former commander of the Strategic Missile Force, General Vladimir Yakovlev, retired, warns that hypothetical deployment of US nuclear missiles in Britain would spell the severing of the INF treaty. "This would entail the abrogation of START-III and utter destabilization of the world situation. The collapse of all international nuclear non-proliferation commitments would follow," Yakovlev said. "Behind Hammond's statement I can see the United States' wish to see what Moscow's response may be like. Russia has enough resources to counter these challenges," Yakovlev said with certainty.

Moscow's latest response the INF issue was formulated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday afternoon, following talks with his Salvadoran counterpart Hugo Martinez Bonilla.

"I prefer a professional, scrupulous approach, without improvisations," Lavrov said. "We have heard these statements (about the United States' intention to deploy ballistic missiles in Asia and in Europe - TASS). "We are studying them. It is important to understand what was said and who said it, because sometime statements are taken out of the context."

"These issues are too serious for us to react to them off the cuff," Lavrov said, when asked by TASS about remarks by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the United States might deploy its cruise and ballistic missiles in Europe.

"Fundamentally, we regard the fanning of belligerent rhetoric as absolutely counterproductive and harmful. The more so, since all of our partners have been saying in chorus they do not wish to see a return of the Cold War," Lavrov said. "But if this is really so, then they should be more cautious about the things they say aloud."

"In practical terms there inevitably emerge concerns over military matters. These concerns are invariably settled and they should continue to be settled through a direct and frank dialogue," Lavrov said.

"We did have such opportunities in relations with our Western partners - both bilateral and in the context of the Russia-NATO Council," he recalled. "All those channels of communication between military agencies were frozen, and not at our initiative, but at the initiative of our partners. The same applies to the two-plus-two format mechanisms we had shared with Britain and the United States, which brought together foreign and defense ministers."

[Source: By Tamara Zamyatina, Itar Tass, Moscow, 09Jun15]

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