JMU intelligence analysis professor talks implications of Russia’s withdrawal from arms treaty

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 1:21 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A professor of intelligence analysis at James Madison University says Russia’s recent withdrawal from an arms control treaty with the U.S. further increases tension between the two nations and can have long-standing impacts.

“The big issue in all this is just the further disintegration of relations and what that means for further conflict in Eastern Europe,” Philip Baxter said.

According to the U.S. State Department, the New START treaty was entered into force in 2011 and places limits on all Russian-deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons.

Baxter says a major takeaway from the suspension of the agreement is the loss of information-sharing between the two countries.

“We will not have inspectors on the ground to see the status of some of their nuclear arsenals, production facilities, and so forth and likewise, the Russians won’t see our facilities either. So that’s one of the disadvantages that we lose that valuable piece of intelligence that comes from those visits,” Baxter said.

He adds that the potential for arms racing is slim.

“There’s a number of reasons for that. First, Russia can’t afford to do that financially, and they’ve actually committed to staying in compliance with New START even though it will not be legislatively in effect. On the other hand, the U.S. does not have the infrastructure to quickly build up its nuclear arsenals,” Baxter explained.

The suspension of the agreement can also set a negative precedent for future nuclear weapon agreements.

Baxter says that is because this could mark the end of bilateral agreements, as future agreements could involve the participation of China, as they have been building up their arsenals to near the levels of Russia and the U.S.