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Factsheet #71 on Russia and Eurasia

July 29, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust Russia

Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust Russia

The current regime in Russia has a terrible record as a reliable partner, yet President Obama wants the nuclear treaty he negotiated with the Kremlin fast-tracked for Senate approval. That makes no sense. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. A Long History of Arms Control Violations: Russia repeatedly violated the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) all the way to its expiration in December 2009, as clearly stated in 2005 and 2010 State Department compliance reports. Specifically, Russia tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile with Multiple Individually Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (warheads) while START was in force. Such activities, however, were explicitly banned.

2. The West Is Still Their #1 Threat: Russia regards the U.S. and NATO as its principal adversaries and configures its forces for large-scale conventional theater operations with them. The recent discovery of the Russian spy network inside the U.S. and their celebration upon return to Russia, courtesy of President Obama, indicates that Russia is set in a Cold War mentality.

3. Helping Iran and North Korea: According to U.S. intelligence, Russia violated nonproliferation agreements by providing ballistic missile technology to Iran and North Korea, which have continually threatened America and its allies.

4. Still Building a Nuclear Arsenal: Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Russia still designs, builds, and modernizes nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Russia’s new military doctrine maintains a low threshold for nuclear first strikes. In fact, Moscow plans to use tactical nuclear weapons in Europe if ever confronted with a conventional threat. In 2009, Russia conducted a military exercise that simulated a nuclear attack on Poland.

New Start: Advantage, Russia5. Not in Compliance on Other Treaties: The U.S. believes Russia to be in non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. In 2009, the Strategic Posture Commission told Congress: “Russia is no longer in compliance with its PNI [Presidential Nuclear Initiatives] commitments.” Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons arsenal may be 10 times larger than that of the U.S.

6. No Regard for Georgia Independence: Russia has repeatedly broken its promises to withdraw military forces from Georgia and Moldova. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it rewrote the rules of post–World War II European security. It repudiated the Helsinki Pact of 1975, which recognized the security of European borders, and violated the sovereignty of a NATO aspirant and member of the Council of Europe.

7. Responds Offensively to Defensive Measures: In response to U.S. plans for a defensive missile shield in Europe to protect against Iranian missile threats, Moscow has repeatedly threatened to deploy Iskander short-range and nuclear-capable missiles to target U.S. allies in Eastern Europe. Reports show that the Baltic Fleet is armed with nuclear weapons that can be used against Europe.

8. Ties to Terrorist Organizations: Russia cultivates ties with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and provides military and diplomatic support for anti-American “rogue states” such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Russia voted with the U.S. at the U.N. Security Council to pass sanctions on Iran—but only after working hard to water them down to practically nothing.

9. Natural Gas as a Political Weapon: The Kremlin uses its neighbors and Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas as a foreign policy tool to pressure states. In 2009, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and to Europe by extension, causing the International Energy Agency to deem them an unreliable supplier.

10. An Authoritarian Regime: The current model of leadership under President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has become increasingly authoritarian. Despite numerous commitments under international law, the government has tightened controls on political life, civil society, and the media. Disruption of political opposition’s activities, restricting access to state-controlled TV, human right violations (such as the beating of demonstrators who “support” the Russian constitution), murder of journalists and anti-corruption activists, disappearance and torture, abuse of the legal system for monetary and political gain—all illustrate this negative trend.

For more information, please visit: www.heritage.org.

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