Who will be worst hit by end of INF Treaty?

The withdrawal by the US and Russia from the INF Treaty on the use of land-based mid-range nuclear missiles has stoked fears of a new arms race. Both sides accuse each other of violating the terms of the treaty. Commentators examine who could be hardest hit by the decision.

Open/close all quotes
Star (TR) /

Big shock coming for weak Europe

Europe is especially vulnerable in its current fragile state, Star explains:

“The INF Treaty was above all aimed at removing the threat of a nuclear war for Europe. In the Cold War the missiles with which both sides threatened each other were aimed at Europen Targets. The treaty expressed the will of both sides not to pose a threat either to Europe or to each other. ... Today's Europe has no enemies, is self-absorbed and unable to play a constructive role in keeping a balance between the US and Russia. This most recent development will force the European countries to side either with the US or with Russia. But it looks very much like the European countries won't show a joint stance on this issue and will experience a big shock.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Worse than in the Cold War

Dnevnik warns against the dire consequences of the end of the INF Treaty:

“There is a hint of irony in the US's withdrawal from the INF Treaty because together with the Start Treaty (on the limitation of strategic weapons), this agreement was the better part of the legacy left by Ronald Reagan and his vice president and successor George Bush. Nevertheless there is cold comfort in this irony. The alliance between the narcissistic ignoramus Trump and the neoconservative lumpen ideology is the unholy sign of a new nuclear arms race. This race is no less dangerous, and even more dangerous than the one during the Cold War, which ended three decades ago with the INF and Start treaties.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Europe will suffer the most

Europe above all will bear the brunt of the cancellation of the INF disarmament treaty, Helsingin Sanomat believes:

“The next step will be for the US to start asking where it should station its missiles. It's entirely possible that the Nato states will fail to reach an agreement and that the US will sign bilateral treaties with individual countries, which would only widen the rifts in the alliance. The negative repercussions of the arms spiral as well as US and Russian speculation on the use of nuclear weapons will increase. Europe is the continent that wants to build a world on the basis of treaties. And when agreements that limit nuclear weapons are rescinded, Europe will suffer the most.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Russia getting its priorities wrong

A new nuclear arms race will have fatal consequences for the Russian economic and social system, Vedomosti fears:

“In Russia it will lead to a concentration of key financial and material resources in defence and hamper technological progress in the civil economy. There's no telling what the global consequences of such a reorientation would be. What's more, the dismantling of the international security system will allow the Kremlin to once again play the 'beleaguered fortress' card: join forces in the face of an external threat. And in the end the social cuts will be justified with the slogan 'less butter, more bombs'.”

Denik (CZ) /

Reagan's formula still works

The only way for the West to keep Russia in line is with military superiority, Deník argues:

“Hopes of preventing another round of the nuclear arms race aren't very great. The most frightening aspect is the irresponsible behaviour of the Kremlin, which five years ago began occupying the Ukrainian Crimea and since then has been waging a war in eastern Ukraine. The only way to withstand the pressure from Russia is to maintain technological and military superiority, intensify work on a missile defence system, secure substantial superiority in the area of conventional arms and not allow aggressive behaviour to go unanswered. Then the Kremlin will be prepared to sign a new INF treaty. Ronald Reagan's formula still applies.”

Pravda (SK) /

Europe once again hostage to superpowers

Europe is the worst hit by the cancellation of the INF Treaty and should voice its opposition, Pravda believes:

“It is very likely that the US will station mid-range missiles on its European bases, thus triggering a new arms race. But bearing in mind Trump's attitude to collective defence it would come as no surprise if Washington pulled its soldiers out of Europe and refused to set up missiles there - in which case the Europeans would be at Russia's mercy. ... Since hope springs eternal, Brussels should call on Washington to improve the INF Treaty rather than cancelling it.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Finally someone standing up to Moscow

Now Washington can perhaps bring the Kremlin to see reason, The Daily Telegraph counters:

“Critics of President Trump will jump on the decision as proof that he is a maverick intent on starting a new arms race - but this move was a long time coming and Russia is to blame. ... A regime that has split Ukraine in two, seized Crimea and attempted assassinations on British soil is unlikely to be averse to nuclear blackmail. Hopefully, too, this withdrawal will prompt Moscow to realise the dangerous game it is playing and think again. Russia typically responds to strength: it sees what it can get away with and, detecting softness, pushes its advantage. Nato must stand firm.”

Tvnet (LV) /

Treaty no longer fit for purpose

Andris Sprūds, head of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA), explains on Tvnet why he thinks Trump is moving foreign policy priorities in the right direction with the cancellation of the contract:

“The US-Russia treaty of the second half of the 1980s which paved the way for the end of the Cold War has not fulfilled its intended purpose for a long time. ... Russia has been violating the agreement for years. ... We cannot ignore this. In a showdown between the US and Russia, missiles are not the main risk that could influence global processes. It's also in Trump's interest to reduce the economic and strategic influence of its competitor China in the Pacific, where the US is located.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Keep an eye on Beijing

If Trump is betting that there's not enough money in the world for a new arms race he has another thing coming, says Večernji list:

“Why did Trump announce that he would withdraw from the agreement? In the US it is assumed that Russia isn't economically prepared for a new arms race, just as in the 1980s the Soviet Union wasn't prepared and was forced to sign the INF Treaty. At the time Reagan also faced the threat of an arms race in space. Now a race to arm satellites which includes China could start. Beijing has so far responded negatively to Trump's calls for an agreement on an arms stop and stressed that this is a matter between the US and Russia.”