World Affairs Council Panel: "Security Challenges Facing the West"

Frank A. Rose
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Washington, DC
November 12, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery

Thanks for that kind introduction, John. It is a pleasure to join a distinguished panel with President Czolij and Ambassador Simonyi whom, among his many accolades, include multiple appearances on the Colbert Report! I never had that honor, but there’s still a chance with the Late Show.

I am very glad to have the chance to talk today about the security challenges caused by Russian actions and rhetoric that have contributed to greater insecurity and concern on the European continent.

Over the past two decades, the United States built a partnership with Russia through dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest, especially with regard to arms control and strategic stability. The good news is that cooperation on strategic arms control with the Russian Federation endures despite a downturn in relations due to Russia’s actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. The same cannot be said for many of the arms control instruments that shaped the Post-Cold War landscape and remain fundamental to mutual security in the Euro-Atlantic.

When the United States and Russia signed New START in 2010, bilateral relations were improving and expectations were that a fruitful partnership on further steps was in the making. Russia’s illegal actions in Crimea and inconsistent implementation of its arms control obligations have triggered just the opposite. In light of this downturn in relations, the predictability and stability that the New START Treaty provides have proven all the more important. Without this tool, we would not have access to, or limits on, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.

Since the treaty’s entry into force in 2011, the United States and Russia have each conducted its annual allocation of 18 on-site inspections and exchanged over 9,600 notifications related to deployment status, location, and movement of strategic nuclear forces. The verification regime of the New START Treaty provides confidence to both sides they will be able to determine whether the other will have met the Treaty’s central limits when they take effect in 2018. We know we can do more, which is why President Obama proposed an up to a one-third reduction below the New START level of deployed strategic nuclear forces, an offer that Russia has yet to embrace.

While implementation of New START marches forward, the picture is less rosy with respect to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The United States takes its treaty obligations seriously and expects the same from others. My Bureau publishes the Annual Arms Control Compliance Report. We first announced in the 2014 edition, and reiterated in this year’s edition, our determination of Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty. Russia’s violation is not a technicality or an issue of mistaken identity. This is a serious violation of one of the core tenets of the INF Treaty – not to produce or flight test intermediate-range ground launched cruise missile.

Let me be clear: we do not seek to demonize Russia, but Russia must abide by its legal obligations to us and others. And while we do not seek to return to the escalatory cycle of action, reaction that marked much of the Cold War, we are committed that Russia needs to return to compliance. If it does not, we will take whatever steps are needed to ensure our security and that of our allies.

We are pursuing various ways to motivate Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty, including possible economic and military responses should Russia persist in its violation and continue to reject our efforts to resolve the issue diplomatically. We will ensure that Russia does not gain any advantage over the United States or its Allies through its pursuit of such systems.

We will also forcefully and factually refute Russia’s groundless and diversionary claims that it is the United States that is seeking to undermine the INF Treaty. Far from it, we are fully and faithfully complying with the INF. At every turn, we have offered to engage Russia on their concerns if they engage us on our, and in response we have received nothing but denials in return.

At the signing of INF Treaty with General Secretary Gorbachev in 1987, President Reagan expressed hope that an arms control agreement backed by a strict verification regime would serve as a template for other treaties on conventional and nuclear weapons. Indeed, INF served as the forerunner to a future regimes that were staples of U.S. and regional security for decades before falling victim to a new way of operating in Russia—one that selectively implements its arms control agreements.

For example, Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine have violated international commitments and undermined multiple arms control and confidence-building obligations. The presence of Russian military forces in Crimea without Ukraine’s consent is a violation of the CFE Treaty. Moreover, since Russia ceased implementation of the CFE Treaty in 2007, it has not been in compliance with its data submissions, notification, and inspection obligations under the Treaty. Senior U.S. officials, along with our Allies, continue to highlight the need for Russia to fully implement its arms control obligations and commitments, including those in the CFE Treaty.

More recently, Russian aggressive actions in Ukraine and around its border with Ukraine run counter to the Vienna Document, in which the participating States stress the continued validity of commitments on refraining from the threat or use of force. In 1994, Russia welcomed Ukraine’s decision to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pledged through the Budapest Memorandum to respect the independence and existing borders of Ukraine. Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are contrary to those commitments.

Instead of recommitting itself to these arms control instruments, Russia is leveling baseless claims against U.S. compliance to divert attention away from its own treaty violations. These claims are classic attempts at misdirection. For the record, we have engaged the Russians repeatedly and in depth on these issues, dating back to the 1990s and we continue to be willing to discuss our compliance with treaties and agreements. We see no such willingness from the Russians.

Russia has also repeatedly demanded legally-binding limitations on U.S. and NATO missile defense. U.S. policy, our capabilities, and our finite resources, all preclude the development of a ballistic missile defense architecture that is capable of threatening Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

The 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (or BMDR) makes clear that the United States’ missile defenses are focused on defending against limited missile threats to the U.S. homeland and regional missile threats to our deployed forces, allies, and partners throughout the world. It also clearly states that our missile defenses are not directed against Russia.

That has not stopped Russian leaders from attacking the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), nor from stating falsely that President Obama had promised to scrap European missile defense “if the Iranian threat was eliminated.” The United States and NATO have repeatedly said that the system is designed for ballistic missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area and can neither negate nor undermine Russia's strategic deterrent capabilities. Prior to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine that led to a suspension of our dialogue on missile defense, the United States and NATO offered Russia various proposals to cooperate on missile defense. Russia elected to not take us up on our proposals.

The United States remains committed to advancing toward a world without nuclear weapons and furthering international security. To make progress, we need a willing partner and a conducive environment. We will continue to press Russia to reverse its current approach and recommit to measures that promote mutual security. For our part, the United States will neither waver in our commitment to the security of our allies nor our commitment to our arms control obligations.

Thank you again for the invitation, and I welcome your questions.