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Mattis Tells NATO That Russia Is in Violation of the INF Treaty

Nov. 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—During the just-concluded NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told his counterparts that Russia is not only in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but that its commitment to other arms control treaties is suspect.

"The bottom line is you have to have respect for other nations’ sovereignty. When you make agreements, when you sign treaties, you have to live up to those treaties,"

Mattis said, according to the Pentagon transcript of his remarks. "And we have a firm belief, now, over several years," he went on,

"that the Russians have violated the INF Treaty. And our effort is to bring Russia back into compliance. It is not to walk away from the treaty. But, just like with the Vienna agreement, the Minsk accord, the Helsinki accord, we now have an increasing concern about Russia’s willingness to live up to the accords that it’s signed, the treaties it’s signed."

The conference report on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, just released this week, reflects the same wildly false view towards Russia as Mattis. According to The Hill, the bill provides $58 million "to respond to Russia’s violations of an arms treaty without scrapping the treaty altogether." In today’s Washington, $58 million may not seem like all that much money, but it’s the directionality that counts.

"The conferees took a firm view that more needs to be done to make sure that we maintain our competitive advantage against the potential adversary of Russia, and so we took steps to ensure that we have improved our capabilities over the long term to maintain that competitive capability,"

a senior House Armed Services Committee staffer told reporters Wednesday. The $58 million is "to counter Russia’s violation of the treaty" including research and development on a new ground launched cruise missile though this would supposedly not be in violation of the treaty. The bill would also require the president to identify in a public document Russians involved in the treaty violation along with other senior Russian political and military leaders and to develop draft regulations to use as a basis for future sanctions legislation, according to the House summary. The bill also restricts spending on the Open Skies Treaty, which it claims Russia is also violating.

The Russians are already warning that if the United States begins the development of a new missile, Russia will respond.

"If the missile announced by Congress indeed makes it into the American arsenal, we will have to develop and adopt the same thing. Russia has the military and technical capacities for that,"

Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Defense and Security Committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federal Council, (and until recently head of the Russian Aerospace Forces) has said, reports RT. As noted above, the bill supposedly won’t result in a treaty violation, but the Russians have no doubt that a U.S. violation is inevitable. "It will entirely contradict the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty," Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the Russian lower house Defense Committee and the former head of Russia’s airborne troops, said on Thursday. "Our president said: ’the response will be instant,’" referring to earlier comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin. RT notes that the United States has never publicly provided any evidence of a Russian violation of the treaty but just goes around stating it as if it were an established fact, and cites Mattis’s remarks in Brussels as the latest example of this.