The Ukraine crisis: Russia may halt (START) strategic weapons inspections, revert to Cold War tactics

This is perfect timing, for Russia that is, since the USA is conveinently suiciding itself militarily by reducing its strategic nuclear deterrance — which also outdated and hasn’t seen anything new in weaponry since the early 90’s/late 80’s.

Russia ratcheted up international tensions over Ukraine by a big notch Saturday, March 8, the day after mobilizing air and coastal defenses for a large-scale month-long drill to prevent the disruption of the May 16 Crimean referendum. The defense ministry in Moscow announced: “Russia is considering halting foreign inspections of its strategic weapons arsenal, including nuclear-capable missiles, in response to “threats” from the United States and NATO over the Ukraine crisis.

Lines of tanks were seen Saturday heading from Russian bases towards Crimea.

A high-ranking defense ministry official in Moscow, who was not named, released this statement to all Russian news agencies: “The unfounded threats towards Russia from the United States and NATO over its policy on Ukraine are seen by us as an unfriendly gesture that allows the declaration of force majeure circumstances.”

By this statement, Moscow announces that due to “force majeure circunstances” [sic] it no longer feels bound by its commitment to international inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States and the Vienna Document between Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states.

START, which was signed between the United States and Russia in 1991, mandated the mutual reduction by the two powers of nuclear warheads, missiles and nuclear missiles carried by submarines, under international inspection..

The signing of the first START treaty in 1991 marked the historic end of the Cold War and the Soviet empire’s breakup.

Two years ago, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev renewed the treaty. The incumbent Russian president Vladimir Putin is now threatening to abdicate from the 23-year pact, i.e., warning the United States and the West that Moscow is prepared to revert to the belligerent posture maintained by the Soviet Union in the years of the Cold War unless they back off on punitive measures over the Ukraine dispute.

Amid spiraling tensions between Moscow and the West over the fate of Crimea, Russia has mobilized its air and coastal defenses and more than 1,000 missile and tank units for a month-long drill in Kapustin Yar, around 450 km from the Ukraine border in the Astrakhan district. debkafile’s military sources report that this facility is home to one of Russia’s biggest missile bases. The exercise covers the whole of March and early April, including the March 16 Crimean referendum on secession and its aftermath.

It will conclude with live-firing drills and the deployment of air defense systems in early April, when Moscow calculates they may be needed to thwart any Ukrainian or Western attempt to disrupt Crimea’s expected application to join the Russian Federation.

The referendum, put forward by two weeks to March 16, will ask roughly three million Crimean citizens for a straight “yes” or “no” on whether to remain part of Ukraine or secede to Russia. Since around 65 percent of the voters are ethnic Russians, the region’s future is not hard to predict.

Col. Oleg Kochetkov of the Kapustin Yar district command described the new Russian deployment as “the largest-ever exercise held by air defense units of the Western Military District.” He added: “It is for the first time that all air defense units from the district, including coastal defenses of the Northern Fleet, have gathered in one place.”
Taking part in the exercise are S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles, Buk-M1 medium-range missiles and Strela-10 short-range missiles.

debkafile’s military sources report that Kapustin Yar is home to one of Russia’s biggest missile bases. From there, the army tested on March 3 its new anti-air missile system S-500, followed the next day by the test-launch of an RT-2PM Topol (NATO codenamed SS-25 Sickle) IBCM.

Full article: The Ukraine crisis: Russia may halt (START) strategic weapons inspections, revert to Cold War tactics (DEBKAfile)

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