Missile Misdemeanours: Russia and the INF Treaty Contents

Annex 2: Alleged Russian non-compliance in arms control agreements

Alongside the INF Treaty, the US Government has raised concerns relating to Russian compliance with several major arms control and security agreements. The majority of these allegations are laid out in the US State Department’s annual compliance reports on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agreements, but these issues were also raised in evidence to this inquiry.156

Biological Weapons Convention: The Soviet Union had always strenuously denied the existence of any offensive biological weapons (BW) programme during the Cold War after the signing of the BW Convention in 1972. It was subsequently revealed by a defecting scientist in 1992 that a vast research and development programme for offensive BW weapons, known as ‘Biopreparat’ had existed on a much larger scale than Western intelligence agencies had suspected. The BW Convention requires Russia to destroy such weapons or to divert them to peaceful purposes. Although Russia undertook to do so in 1992, the US considers that Russia’s written submissions on compliance required under the BW Convention have still not satisfactorily documented and demonstrated the complete destruction of this programme, or its diversion into wholly peaceful purposes, as required by Article II of the BW Convention.

Chemical Weapons Convention: Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993, which places obligations on state parties to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles. In 1997, Moscow declared its possession of the world’s largest stockpile of chemical agents and munitions—40,000 metric tons of agents—under the CWC. The declared inventory consisted of a comprehensive array of traditional chemical warfare agents incorporated in to munitions such as artillery shells, bombs, and missile warheads, as well as stored in bulk.157 President Putin said in September 2017 that Russia had destroyed the last of its chemical weapons and that all chemical weapons production and storage facilities had been closed. He claimed this as an “historic moment” and criticised the United States for not following suit.158 The Organisation for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons (OPCW) validated the Russian announcement shortly afterwards.159 Yet, according to the 2018 Compliance Report, Russian use of a military grade nerve agent in the Salisbury attack of March 2018 indicates that the Russian declarations required under the CW Convention are either inaccurate or incomplete. The US does not believe Russia has declared all of its CW stockpile, all of its CW production facilities, and all of its CW development facilities.

Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty: The CFE Treaty was signed in 1990. It places comprehensive limits on various categories of conventional military equipment and mandates the disposal of surplus equipment. Russia suspended its implementation of the CFE Treaty in 2007, claiming that the establishment of US bases in Romania and Bulgaria was in breach of the Treaty. The US considers the stationing of Russian troops in the territory of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine without the permission of the host governments as a serious violation. Since 2015, Russia has failed to pay its specified share of the common expenses associated with the operation of the Treaty’s Joint Consultative Group.

Open Skies Treaty: The Open Skies Treaty allows signatory states an agreed number of unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territory. The US considers Russia to be in violation of its terms by imposing sub-limits to flight plans intended to overfly its Kaliningrad enclave. No provision of the OST permits the establishment of such sub-limits. Russia has also rejected flight plans for overflight of its borders adjacent to the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in Georgia—on the basis that these two territories are independent states and not parties to the OST. The US position, alongside that of all other parties to the OST, is that the two territories are part of Georgia, which is a signatory to the Treaty.

Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement: In 2000, the United States and Russia signed a Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) committing each country to dispose of no fewer than 34 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium removed from their respective defence programs. Although the US believes there is no indication that Russia violated its obligations under the PMDA, Russia’s October 2016 announcement of a decision to “suspend” the PMDA—a term without clear legal meaning under the Agreement—raises concerns regarding its future adherence to those obligations.

Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures: As part of confidence-building measures to increase transparency of the size and deployment of military forces in Europe, the OSCE Vienna Documents place requirements on signatory states to exchange information on deployments of military forces within the areas delimited. The Document also imposes requirements for exercises involving formations in excess of a certain number of personnel. The US contends that Russia has failed to declare the presence of particular military units active in the territory of Ukraine and elsewhere. It also argues that Russia has held exercises, including the major Zapad 2017 exercise, in excess of the threshold required for notification and inspection.

Presidential Nuclear Initiatives: A series of Presidential Nuclear Initiatives were concluded between the US and Russia in 1991, seeking to limit and reduce both countries’ tactical nuclear weapons stockpiles. Under the PNI, the US committed to withdraw to the US all ground-launched short-range weapons deployed overseas and destroy them along with existing US-based stockpiles of the same weaponry. Deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on surface ships, attack submarines and land-based naval aircraft would also come to an end. The PNI were not established on a treaty basis, were non-verifiable, and lacked transparency. This inability to check implementation of the PNI made any assessment of their success quite difficult. While the US reportedly completed its proposed reductions and withdrawals in 1992 and its elimination process in 2003, Russia has released very little information to substantiate its PNI activities, leading the US State Department to question and challenge its PNI record.

Helsinki Final Act: A landmark 1975 agreement on European security which guaranteed the integrity of European states. Russia has arguably violated this in respect of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances: An agreement of 1994 providing assurances on security and territorial integrity to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in return for those states divesting themselves of nuclear weapons and acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. A number of states, including the UK and the US, have accused Russia of violating this agreement by its aggressive behaviour since 2014.

Istanbul Accords: An OSCE agreement of 1999, by which Russia undertook to remove its forces from Moldova and Georgia, is clearly being violated by the continuing Russian military presence in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Published: 4 April 2019