U.S. and Russia: the plot thickens — in a bad way

The recent news that Russia has been found to be in noncompliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (IMF) treaty and the resultant U.S. decision to put Russia on notice that we will pull out of the agreement in six months is troubling on several levels (“Trump suspends arms treaty, citing Chinese, Russian threats,” Feb. 4). Anyone who remembers the dramatic negotiations between the Reagan administration and Mikhail Gorbachev of the former USSR that led to the IMF and other signature nuclear weapons reductions must be deeply disappointed.

The international groundswell of citizen pressure prior to those negotiations and the ensuing acclaim that greeted those leaders’ accomplishments marked an extraordinary turning point in the Cold War and nuclear age. We now appear to have taken a giant step backwards from that moment.

It is also troubling to recognize that Russian non-compliance with the IMF coincides with its interference in elections in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued his warning, President Vladimir Putin countered with a threat to target new missiles not only against Europe but also the U.S. Our understaffed State Department must surely be attempting to calculate what is at the heart of a more hostile Russian international policy.

A third U.S. concern associated with Russian missile policy relates to the possibility of an American overreach. As The Sun article warned, “The U.S. threat to terminate the treaty will not bring Russia back into compliance and could unleash a dangerous and costly new missile competition.” And President Donald Trump has already promised, in his State of the Union address, that the U.S. will not be outspent in a new arms race.

Then there is the matter of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. If he proves that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia (and directly between Presidents Trump and Putin), will our punishment for Russia exceed its crimes? Mr. Trump has been the first person to remind us that we should want to establish better relations with that nation. Yet, in the wake of the IMF withdrawal, relations between our two nations are predictably deteriorating.

Joe Garonzik, Baltimore

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