Just a day after critics warned President Donald Trump that he is playing right into the hands of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin by withdrawing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty of 1987, Putin announced Russia’s withdrawal and ordered the development of new weapons.
On Friday, Trump shockingly announced the suspension of the treaty, which contributed to the end of the arms race and the Cold War, blaming the Russians for allegedly violating the terms of the treaty.
“Tomorrow, the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which will be completed in 6 months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment,” Trump declared. “The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other.”
Critics of the withdrawal warned that Trump should work within the deal to bring Russia in line instead of killing it because doing so would be a gift to Putin in that he would be able to openly pursue development of the very weapons the treaty bars both nations from possessing.
National security expert Sam Vinograd gave the same warning on Twitter.
12. Let’s be careful not to put apples and oranges in the same gift basket. Other “gifts” to Putin haven’t been supported by our allies publicly nor based on intel assessments that our allies agree with.
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) February 2, 2019
And that’s exactly what Putin did on Saturday in response to Trump’s action.
According to Reuters:
Putin said Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the United States of being slow to respond to such moves. Putin said Russia would not deploy its weapons in Europe and other regions unless the United States did so.
“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin declared during the meeting. “We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue. We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.”
Now the treaty may be entirely dead as the world braces for another costly and risky arms race that could bring about another Cold War, or even a hot war that could cost millions of lives.
All because Trump thinks it’s better to kill treaties and appear “tough” instead of working hard through international diplomacy and economic pressure to get the desired result. Of course, that assumes Trump isn’t working as a Russian agent and isn’t doing what Putin tells him to do. After all, we still don’t know what Putin and Trump have said to each other during talks Trump has gone to desperate lengths to keep secret.
And it’s not like Trump will slap sanctions on Russia. He just got done lifting sanctions that had been placed on Russian companies connected to Putin, which means Putin has more economic power to build more weapons.
Putin played Trump like a chump, and now the whole world is paying the price for his incompetence.
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