Russia plans new missile systems to counter U.S. by 2021

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The University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation and Center for worldwide and Security Studies conducted a survey of 1,131 registered voters between January 7 and February 1 in order to determine national views regarding President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, signed by the USA and the Soviet Union in order to ban the deployment of land-based missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,420 miles.

There is no shortage of critics who have pointed out President Donald Trump's monumental strategic mistake in unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

In a speech unveiling a suite of new missile systems before the Russian Federal Assembly in March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that "In late 2017, Russia successfully launched its latest nuclear-powered missile at the Central training ground".

Russia has long denied allegations from the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that a new missile in the Russian arsenal, the SSC-8, violates the terms of the INF for having a maximum range greater than 310 miles. The US has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russian Federation misrepresents its actions, Trump said.

"The use of seaborne and air-launched missiles will allow us to significantly reduce the time needed to produce the new missiles as well as financing for them", Shoigu said.

The defence minister said the plans had been approved by Putin. He also endorsed the army's suggestion to make a ground-based model of the Kalibr cruise missile, which is now fitted on planes, warships, and submarines.

Washington has said it will withdraw fully from the INF in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the 1987 pact.

The Russian leader said that Moscow remains open to talks with Washington, but added that it would be up to the United States to take the first step.

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China wants Russian Federation and the remain in the treaty while arguing against expanding its scope or mandate to include Beijing's nuclear weapons program.

But the real arms race here could be in the Asia-Pacific rather than Europe, where both Russian Federation and the United States are wary of China's growing intermediate-range arsenal which has never been restricted by any arms control agreement. Torpedoing the INF Treaty is likely to trigger the reverse process, leaving the world more at risk and more risky than ever. "And that would be much more of a trigger for a nuclear-arms race reminiscent of the cold war".

The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the United States and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the Continent. He said the military must reconfigure the existing defense budget to find money for the new weapons.

In addition to this, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that NATO states were not ready for a dialogue on the MK-41 launchers deployed in Romania and Poland in violation of the INF Treaty.

"Crossroads is a good word to describe where this decision puts us", says Thomas Countryman, a former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and worldwide security.

Putin already touted the development - and a purported successful first test - of a hypersonic missile in December. "When they are ready to recognize their responsibility for the problems created by the USA policy...welcome - our doors are open, come in and let us talk, on equal terms, taking into account the interests of each other, lawful interests, but not imaginary ones".

This is a developing story, more to follow. It was the development of that missile, which the Russians call the Novator 9M729, that prompted the USA decision to abandon the INF treaty. In any case, it seems unlikely Beijing would agree to any negotiated limits on its weaponry. China's building of artificial islands on tiny reefs in the middle of the South China Sea created a fresh theatre for geopolitical manoeuvres.

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