Putin’s nuclear provocation threatens an arms race with Trump

The regime of Russian president Vladimir Putin is not fond of the INF treaty. From Moscow’s point of view, the treaty preserves America’s existing advantages in sea-launched cruise missiles and anti-ICBM defenses while making it more difficult for Russia to develop weapons that exploit gaps in American technology and strategy. “The narrative in Moscow is that they got a bad deal,” Collina said.

Experts agree that the acceleration of U.S. missile defense tech under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all in the context of an expanding NATO, provoked Russia’s development of the SSC-8. The final provocation was apparently the Pentagon’s installation of SM-3 ballistic-missile interceptors in Romania in 2015. The U.S. military is building a similar missile-defense site in Poland.

The Pentagon intends the SM-3 sites to help protect America’s NATO allies in Europe from Iranian rockets, but Kremlin considers them a threat to the strategic balance of power between the United States and Russia. “Large-scale deployment [of missile-defenses] could deprive Moscow of that ultimate security guarantee” that nukes provide, Dr. Nikolai Sokov, a fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told The Daily Beast.