Recently in the British newspaper The Times has reported that the new President of the United States Donald trump is ready to reconsider sanctions against Russia in exchange for Russia’s agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons under the pretext of reducing tension in international relations and the end of confrontation. The speaker of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Russia “has always stood for proportional and fair process of nuclear disarmament”, on the eve of the inauguration of Donald trump. The opinion of the Russian authorities on this issue has changed. Ex-US President Barack Obama was convinced that Russia is not willing to reduce nuclear Arsenal in accordance with the third contract on reduction of offensive arms (start-3), which he proposed to extend. After the expiry of the start-3, in 2021, will disappear legal restrictions on the reduction of nuclear weapons the US and Russia.
Adherence to “tradition” for the lifting of sanctions
With the coming to power of new presidents of the United States the White House often activates negotiations with the Kremlin on nuclear arms reductions. In relations between the US and Russia have a tradition to take on the responsibilities of the international guarantors of nuclear safety on the example of reducing the nuclear legacy of the cold war. Although the American-Russian agreement do not regulate the number of nuclear arsenals of Britain, France, Pakistan, India and China.
The President of the United States Donald trump offers Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals, to create a pretext for the repeal of a decree on anti-Russian sanctions. The new President is interested not so much in improving international nuclear safety, but rather to defend the interests of American oil companies in the Russian market. Oil company ExxonMobil due to sanctions on Russia lost a billion dollars in projects for oil production in Russia.
Donald trump has the right to cancel the decrees of Barack Obama, which established the legal framework for entering sectoral sanctions against Russian companies and officials after the annexation of Crimea. However, it cannot act unilaterally. The abolition of anti-Russian sanctions negatively perceive the U.S. Congress, who disapproves of the statements made by Donald trump about improving relations with Russia, which does not stop the aggression in Ukraine continues military intervention in Syria. Part of the American society can accept the new President as a concession to the Kremlin that would negatively affect the international image of the United States. As a true businessman, Donald trump is interested in achieving mutually beneficial transactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and not for appeasement.
The reduction of Russia’s nuclear arsenals is an argument with which Donald trump can argue the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions until compliance with the Minsk agreements and the return of the Crimea to the Ukraine. The us President hopes that the public will perceive this move as a concession to the United States to Russia, and as a diplomatic victory for Washington in strengthening international non-proliferation regime and nuclear arms reduction in the world. The international community perceives the prevention of nuclear war as a more global challenge than resolving local conflicts, including in the East of Ukraine. Perhaps, the American President deliberately outlined the topic of nuclear arms reduction in the upcoming negotiations with the Russian side to avoid discussing problematic issues of bilateral relations.
USA have nothing to lose from further nuclear arms reductions. Donald trump in his election program was talking about the modernization of the us army, including a nuclear Arsenal. Reducing the number of nuclear warheads and their carriers does not hurt to Finance the program for the modernization of Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), even in smaller amounts. Washington is betting on the development of anti-ballistic missile systems (ABM) that is designed to repel a possible nuclear attack by potential enemies (Russia, China, North Korea). In 2002, the US withdrew from the Treaty on the limitation of ABM systems in 1972, which allowed Washington and Moscow have no more than two missile defense systems around the capital and in the area of concentration launchers (ICBMs). Start-3 does not apply to the development and production of missile defense systems.
Aggression without limits
Despite the fact that part of Russian society has a negative perception of the reduction of the nuclear Arsenal, seeing it as a “threat” to Russia’s national security, the proposal of Donald trump favorable to the Kremlin. Because in Russia a difficult economic situation, the Kremlin bosses may ultimately accept the offer of Donald trump and agree on further reductions in nuclear Arsenal to create a pretext for the lifting of sanctions. Russia can evade responsibility for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and continue aggression in Ukraine. The reduction of nuclear weapons beneficial to the Russian Federation from the point of view of saving the military budget. According to GlobalSecurity, in 2016 Russia planned to additionally spend 4 billion rubles for the development of nuclear weapons. These funds, the Kremlin was able to direct on financing of the Russian-terrorist troops in the Donbas.
Nuclear weapons are not essential to national security. Since the “cold war” Russia is aware of the possibility of mutual destruction if nuclear weapons will be used against another holder of the nuclear club. No matter how loud nor were the statements of Russian politicians and analysts about the right of Russia to use nuclear weapons for its security, the current Russian leadership does not take this step because of fear of retaliation from the United States. Russia may use nuclear weapons only as a factor of pressure on the nuclear state. You don’t have to be armed with hundreds of missiles. Russia is betting on the development of ICBMs mobile land-based missiles (missile complex “YARS” on the basis of trucks), which allow you to move ballistic missiles to the borders of neighbouring States to intimidate.
Even in the event of further reductions in nuclear weapons, the United States will have informal quantitative advantage in ICBMs to Russia. UK, which is the main military-political partner of NATO, has 120 nuclear warheads (ICBMs, Trident II, made in the USA) that can be installed on nuclear submarines. Since 1962, the nuclear Arsenal of the UK is included in the system of nuclear planning of the United States. In Russia there are fears that ballistic missiles Trident II American production equipped with a “system shift” that will allow US to use them on your own. Because of the geographical location of the UK, while the approach of the British ICBM to the vital objects of Russia is less than nuclear warheads from the United States.
Wanting is not harmful
Wish Donald trump to link the reduction of nuclear arsenals with the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions depends on the position of the U.S. Congress. Even if Donald trump, and Vladimir Putin will sign an additional agreement on the extension of the start-3 Treaty, the document will not have a higher legal force up until the U.S. Congress does not ratify it. Before,to negotiate with Vladimir Putin to reduce nuclear arsenals and to promise in return the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions Donald Trump have to gain support in the U.S. Congress, where there is bipartisan support for tightening sanctions on Russia to force Russia to peace in Ukraine. A group of us senators headed by Republican John McCain and Democrat Ben Cardin has drafted a bill which would circulate sanctions on the oil and gas sector of Russia and any foreign company which is interested to do business in this segment. Senators and members of the house of representatives may not support extension of start-3, knowing that the next President will cancel anti-Russian sanctions. Without legislative support, the U.S. will not be able to reduce the nuclear Arsenal.
Russia will not reduce nuclear weapons unilaterally without proportional participation of the United States, even if in return will be followed by the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions.
Vladimir Putin will not support a significant part of Russian society, which still perceives nuclear weapons as a factor of its security and resource greatness. Uncritically minded segments of the population of Russia are convinced that as long as the hands of the Kremlin will be in the nuclear club, they would fear the whole world and NATO will not dare to take aggressive action. Until Russia reduces nuclear weapons, Donald trump will not be a strong case for the abolition of the decrees of Barack Obama on anti-Russian sanctions. A vicious circle, which creates a system of checks and contradictions between the Executive and legislative power in the United States. In this case, the tricks of Donald trump and Vladimir Putin to find a convenient reason to cancel anti-Russian sanctions without implementation of the Minsk agreements and the return of the Crimea to the Ukraine come to a standstill.