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Fears over Russian nuclear threat to UK
Russia is steadily "unravelling" the historic arms control treaties that ended the Cold War and became cornerstones of European security, the most comprehensive survey of global military trends said yesterday.
The Military Balance 2008 portrays Russia as breaking out of the constraints imposed by treaties once considered inviolable.
John Chipman, the head of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which published the survey, said the "next target of Moscow’s assertive revisionism" could be the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.
This crucial agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, eliminated medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
President Vladimir Putin has already stopped adhering to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which came into force in 1992 and restricts the deployment of troops and tanks near sensitive European frontiers.
Later this year, Russia is expected to formally withdraw from the CFE treaty.
Taken together, these steps would allow Russia to build a new generation of medium-range nuclear missiles capable of striking Western Europe.
Its armed forces would also be free to deploy near any European country bordering Russia.
"The end of the CFE treaty, the cornerstone of post-Cold War European security, could have negative consequences for Europe," said Mr Chipman.
"It will abolish an important confidence-building mechanism — including the exchange of data and an inspection regime — and introduce new tensions between Russia and its neighbours, particularly if Russia decides to redeploy its troops closer to Nato member states."
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