Letter From the Editors: March 13 - 19, 2017

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

With Missiles Like These, Who Needs Frenemies?

For those who believe time travel is possible, here’s hoping that 1983 was a good year, because it certainly feels like we’re returning to it: Not in terms of shoulder pads and upturned collars (although who wouldn’t want to rock that look again?) but nuclear hysteria. According to military expert Pavel Felgengauer, NATO and Russia are essentially in the same mess as in the early 80‘s, when American Pershings and Soviet Pioner missiles made Europe a very uncomfortable place to be. Eventually, given the American missiles’ superior accuracy, Moscow blinked first: "In the event of a preemptive (decapitating) strike, the top military-political leadership would have no time to safely evacuate from Moscow by helicopter, and it would be risky to take shelter from a surgically accurate nuclear warhead in a bunker. The chiefs did not intend to die, so the INF Treaty was signed, based on Reagan’s ‘zero option,’ " Felgengauer concludes.

Today, the Russian General Staff is caterwauling that the 1987 INF Treaty was unfair, and both sides are accusing each other of violating it. The situation looks frighteningly familiar - the US is deploying bases in Romania and Poland, while Russia is threatening to station its Kalibr missiles in response (and perhaps has already deployed them in the Crimea).

Is it any wonder that in this scenario, more and more countries want a couple of nuclear warheads of their own, just to be safe? Spooked by the Trump administration’s possible plans to leave Europe to its own devices when it comes to defense, EU officials are floating the idea of developing European nuclear deterrence, writes Andrei Akulov: "The nuclear deterrence plan proposes turning the French nuclear potential into a European nuclear deterrent." Ukraine decided to jump on the bandwagon - Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin said Ukraine wants its nuclear status reviewed. So if the ...

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