The military flexibility that President Barack Obama assured Russian President Vladimir Putin he would gain upon his re-election must be yielding everything the Kremlin leader could possibly have hoped for.
As Russia continues to ignore international agreements, invade sovereign land, and expand its warfare arsenal, U.S. nuclear forces are being cut back four years ahead of the 2018 compliance schedule provided for in our New START treaty with them.
According to The Wall Street Journal, that agreement was negotiated at a time when the Obama administration was well aware that the Kremlin was already in probable violation of a 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty which bans the testing, production, and possession of nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.
At least three of their missiles — the R-500 cruise missile, RS-26 ballistic missile (or Yars-M), and the Iskander-M semi-ballistic missile — fell into that category.
While Russia claims that such intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) are really intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to replace older weapons, the Yars-M is clearly the former. In addition, Russia is also developing, testing and possibly ready to deploy the R-500.
This information was available in Russian open-source literature dating back to 2007. Yet as defense analysts Keith Payne and Mark Schneider noted: “since 2009, the current administration’s unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on Russian INF Treaty noncompliance.” Had members of Congress been aware of such cheating, the New START would have had been a nonstarter in attaining two-thirds of the Senate votes required for ratification.
The Pentagon’s recent announcement of deep nuclear force cuts came just a few days after Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists reported that “Russia has increased its counted deployed strategic nuclear forces over the past six months.” The U.S. reductions will include mobile submarine and bomber-deployed systems which are least vulnerable to attack, adversely impacting our second-strike sea and air deterrence capabilities.
By 2018, the Navy will reduce the number of deployed and nondeployed submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles from 336 to 280. In fact, some of the missile tubes aboard the Navy’s 14 Ohio-class ballistic submarines will be purposefully altered to prevent ballistic missile launches.
In addition, 50 of our 450 Minuteman III missiles will be removed from silos and stored. This will involve closing down one of three current U.S. ICBM wing squadrons. The remaining 400 to be retained will constitute the lowest number since 1962 when America had 203. That total was rapidly expanded following the Cuban missile crisis.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration somehow continues to profess shock that Putin hasn’t played the game according to agreed-upon rules. Like, for example, his abrogation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Kiev agreed to give up its substantial nuclear arsenal in exchange for Russian, U.S. and U.K. guarantees of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea and positioning of a 50,000 troop invasion force on the nation’s border presents a clear game-changing message that their assurance terms were not only meaningless, but counterproductive as well. Had Ukraine kept those weapons, their sovereign security position today might be much stronger.
On the same day that the Pentagon announced early New START nuclear force cuts, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “Russian provocateurs” had infiltrated eastern Ukraine to foment “an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis.”
So where’s all the gratitude that the Obama administration had expected? After promising to lead the world in a crusade to rid the world of nuclear weapons through treaties and moral example, the very least Putin might have done was to show some appreciation for canceling previous plans for a promised missile defense site in Poland to appease Russia’s vehement opposition. And incidentally, that canceled Polish missile defense installation would also have afforded some protection to the U.S. against Iranian ICBM strikes.
There should be little wonder that President Obama’s lead-from-behind approach to winning the hearts, minds, and respect of America’s allies and adversaries is falling far short of expectations. As he slumbers in a dream world without nuclear weapons, Russia, China and rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran continue to expand their arsenals with determination and impunity.
It’s way past time to wake up and acknowledge the real world, one recognized in the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s peace through strength doctrine. Policies that weaken America’s defenses are indefensible.
Rather than make the world a less violent place, addressing aggression with weakness and passivity only emboldens those set upon exploiting feckless passivity and gullibility.
Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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