Finally, the US has carried out its threat to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, better known as the INF Treaty. This development in international relations does not bode well for global stability. The INF Treaty was entered into between the US and the USSR during the Cold War era.
It banned land-based missiles with a range of more than 500 km. However, in 2018 the U.S President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the Treaty, claiming that Moscow had been non-compliant in that the Kremlin had been secretly developing arms that contravene the specifications spelt out in the INF Treaty.
The missile that the Trump administration had complained about was identified as 9M729, which allegedly boasted an estimated range of 2000 kilometres, a lot more than the legal limit of 500km as per the prescripts of the INF Treaty.
Moscow has vehemently denied the accusation, steadfastly maintaining its willingness to breathe continued life into one of the world’s most-heralded treaties as it gradually ebbed away little by little.
This week, in an effort to demonstrate that Moscow was least interested to embark on an arms race with the West, a Kremlin statement said Russian President Vladimir Putin has undertaken never to deploy the 9M729 missiles in European Russia despite the missiles being in full compliance with the now-defunct INF Treaty.
President Putin gave the assurance and appealed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries to not deploy any kind of weapons previously precluded in the INF Treaty. President Putin described his decision as having being made “in the spirit of goodwill”.
Now, Since the end of World War 2 in 1945, the international community has succeeded through forums of multilateralism to avoid a repeat of the devastating world wars of the past including a repeat indeed of World War 1, which took place from 1914 to 1918 before it was brought to the end through the signing of the League of Nations in 1920 with the singular most important objective being to maintain world peace.
I cite this example of a well-documented history primarily to demonstrate that world leaders sometimes never learn the most important lesson of history, which is that history does have a penchant to repeat itself.
And in the light of this lesson, world leaders who have emerged in post-World War 2 era deserve praise for thus far never repeating the history of fatal conflict. I have often argued that in any war there are no winners.
Giving peace a chance is therefore a commendable trait of world leaders who hold in high regard the sanctity of life itself as they do the mandate of their respective electorates.
I have also opined previously in these very pages that the collapse of the INF Treaty is bad news not only for the US and Russia, but for the entire universe.
The possession of nuclear arms by these two super-powers cannot be taken for granted. They can ignite a global war joined on either side by respective allies, leaving in its wake casualties of proportions never witnessed before.
President Putin is correct to hasten to assure his nearby adversaries in NATO and Western Europe in particular that they need not fear anything from Moscow as long as they, too, do not create an environment that necessitates the need for retaliation.
I also believe that this is the one time when the UN should intervene. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, should use the influence and capacity of his esteemed office to engage with all sides of the collapsed INF Treaty, bring them back to the table and assist them in their path of finding each other just as they did in 1987 when they signed the treaty amid deep mistrust of the Cold War.
That is the essence of the UN, to identify brewing fires around the world’s hotspots and putting out such fires through diplomatic interventions. I hope that after the US elections of November 3, 2020, are over whoever comes out victorious between incumbent President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden will regard as one of their top priorities to revive the INF Treaty.
At least President Putin has gone on record to say he is willing to enter into negotiations. Humanity deserves a world at peace for, it is better than a world at war.