Are Russia and America Headed Toward Nuclear War?

Dimitri Alexander Simes
Reuters

Dimitri Alexander Simes

Security, Eurasia

We ask a leading Russian military expert.

Are Russia and America Headed Toward Nuclear War?

Last week, U.S. and Russian delegations met in Geneva to discuss arms control. Dimitri A. Simes, a contributor to the National Interest, spoke to Viktor Murakhovsky, a retired Russian colonel, defense analyst, and editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, to better get the Russian perspective on the future of arms control. Murakhovsky is widely regarded in Russia as a leading military expert and is frequently cited by Russian media. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for length.

Dimitri A. Simes: Last fall, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. More recently, National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that Washington is not sure whether it will extend the New START treaty. How did Moscow react to these developments?

Viktor Murakhovsky: I will not speak on behalf of all of Moscow, so I will just explain my personal analysis. In my view, the INF treaty was concluded under very particular circumstances. During that time period, ballistic missiles were practically the only type of intermediate range missiles—cruise missiles were only starting to be developed. For that reason, there existed a threat that the flight time from the Federal Republic of Germany to the western part of the Soviet Union was twelve to fifteen minutes. If you look at technical components of the treaty, it focused on prohibiting the development of ballistic intermediate range missiles and the liquidation of that class of weapons.

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