Stories by Steven Pifer

Expert Voices

U.S. exit from INF Treaty frees Russia from key nuclear constraints

John Bolton and Donald Trump on stage
President Trump, flanked by national security advisor John Bolton. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Secretary of State Pompeo announced on Feb 1. that the United States will suspend its obligations under — and withdraw from — the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That treaty banned U.S. and Russian land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, but Russia has violated violated the agreement by deploying the 9M729 intermediate-range cruise missile.

Why it matters: Although Washington asserted that its goal was to bring Russia back into compliance, it did not develop a serious political and military strategy to do so. There is now little chance now of saving the treaty, whose demise will weaken U.S. and allied security and free Russia to deploy intermediate-range missiles.

Expert Voices

Trump faults Russia for INF treaty pullout but did little to save it

JUNE 27, 2018: Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and US National Security Adviser John Bolton shake hands during a meeting in the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton at the Kremlin on June 27, 2018. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

President Trump has announced his intent to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which prohibits U.S. and Russian land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. 

The big picture: Trump does have grounds to withdraw — Moscow has violated the treaty by deploying the 9M729 intermediate-range cruise missile — but doing so now is a mistake. Washington had unused tools that could have been employed to encourage Russian compliance.