Michael Krepon of the Simpson Center has a very useful and thoughtful post on the issue. He concludes that Russia is in material breach of the Treaty, that the violation is not militarily significant, that it would be a mistake for the U.S. to either pull out of the Treaty or to increase its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, but that there are steps that we can take (and by and large, are taking) to reassure our allies. Here is a small portion of this thoughtful analysis:
The entire piece is well worth reading. Perhaps its greatest value for the non-expert, is that it displays the sophisticated and layered analysis that is essential to a na analysis of a national security problem.The SSC-8 is a minor accessory to the nuclear wardrobe of the Russian Federation. The United States possesses more than enough nuclear firepower to make the rubble bounce in Russia in the event of a nuclear war. The rationale behind the SSC-8’s deployment does not seem to be linked to war-fighting requirements. Instead, Moscow appears intent to soften up NATO, demonstrate opposition to U.S. forward-deployed missile defenses, and drive a wedge between the United States and allied or friendly states in Europe. The best rejoinders are those that shore up these ties while demanding the removal and destruction of existing SSC-8s as well as the re-imposition of the INF Treaty’s monitoring at production facilities where these missiles have been built.. . .The smartest moves are to double down on the European Reassurance Initiative and to open up a diplomatic track alongside the military preparedness track – which is how the INF Treaty came about. The smart 21st-century counters to Cold War-era nuclear posturing involve precision-guided, stealthy, standoff conventional weapons. The United States holds these high cards, and can share more of them — including extended range, air-launched cruise missiles that are not covered by the INF Treaty — with NATO allies if the Kremlin continues to deploy Euro-missiles. This prospect, along with the prospect of more theater missile defense deployments in Europe, might persuade Vladimir Putin to return to compliance with the INF Treaty.