Russia has followed the US by pulling out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that was signed in 1987 in a tit for tat move reminiscent of the Cold War.
Donald Trumps government suspended the treaty this week claiming Russia had breached the treaty with its latest cruise missiles and the US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, even went as far as to threaten to “take-out” the new weapons.
In response Russia president Vladimir Putin said: “Our American partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the treaty, and we are suspending it too”
The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by US President Regean and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and banned the use and production of intermediate range nuclear capable missiles such as the BGM109 Gryphon Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM’s) that were based at RAF Greenham Common in the 1980’s.
Intermediate Range weapons fall into the category 310-3,400 miles range and the US has alleged that Russia’s latest cruise missile, the 9M729 (Nato codename SSC-8) has been deployed to at least two batallions.
Whilst unverified, the SSC-8 is alleged to have a range of 300–3,420 miles and each battalion
Intermediate range cruise missiles were highly feared during the cold war due to their rapid launch and short flight time giving just minutes of warning of their intended target. There were also highly effective at avoiding defence systems due to their ground following low-altitude flight path.
The suspension of the INF Treaty could spark a new intermediate range arms race with the US already trying to play catch up to the new Russian weapons. Although for US intermediate range weapons to be effective they would need to be based in a NATO country in Europe in a similair way to the deployment at RAF Greenham Common and RAF Molesworth.