‘We All Have Children,’ Says Russ Envoy, Quoting Sting

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UNITED NATIONS — “We all have children,” said Dmitry Polianskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, reminding me immediately of an old hit by Sting: “Mister Krushchev said ‘We will bury you’ / I don’t subscribe to this point of view/ It’d be such an ignorant thing to do / If the Russians love their children too.”

Talking to a gaggle of reporters Thursday, Mr. Polyanskiy addressed global concerns over that mysterious “isotope fuel” engine blowup at the Nyonoska test range earlier this month. Moscow acknowledged the explosion killed at least 5 engineers, but as radiation levels in the area spiked, the Kremlin became mum. “I don’t know what happened,” Mr. Polyanskiy told me.

Earlier, during a contentious Security Council session, America’s acting ambassador here, Jonathan Cohen, pointedly accused Moscow of decades-long multiple violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force treaty that was signed by Russia and America in the late 1980s. President Trump declined to renew the INF treaty, leading Russia and China to gather the Council Thursday.

Ostensibly, they attempted publicly to shame America, using Mr. Trump’s image as an outlaw who refuses to abide by norms and international decorum. In reality, Trump was absolutely right to walk away from an outdated bilateral pact that didn’t include China’s fast-growing missile arsenal and that its signatory, Russia, systematically violated.

Moscow “has produced and fielded multiple battalions of 9M729 ground-launched cruise missiles … in violation of the now terminated INF treaty, including in western Russia, with the ability to strike critical European targets,” Mr Cohen disclosed to the council.

Similarly, he added, “China threatens to target U.S. allies that host any U.S. intermediate-range missiles in future, even though China has already deployed thousands of intermediate-range missiles in the region with the purpose of holding the United States and our allies and partners at risk.”

While America has “zero” missiles in the field, Mr Cohen told the Council, Russia has developed battalions of the previously-banned arms, while China has deployed 2,000 missiles it would be banned from possessing had it been a member to the treaty.

While Russia violated a treaty that China wasn’t bound by, America was hamstrung under the terms of the INF. So now that the treaty no longer exists, Mr. Cohen said, “the United States is taking the necessary steps to address the threat posed by intermediate-range missile forces being deployed in ever-larger numbers by Russia and China, which the INF Treaty did not hinder.”

That’s the right path to take when an outdated bilateral agreement no longer hinders arms development, as originally designed. And no, the Security Council has no business dealing with a bilateral pact signed by none but two of its members.

True, a new INF-like mechanism may be possible and may even be negotiated in the future, but let’s learn from the INF’s collapse. An arms-limiting pact needs to cover China in addition to America and Russia, as well as other future-rising powers. It must also include a verification mechanism, so clearly lacking in the INF.

The kind of mechanism that, for one, could uncover the obvious question Mr. Cohen bluntly addressed to Mr. Polyanskiy during Thursday’s session: “What exactly happened on August 8 in Russia? What caused the explosion, what system was it, and what purpose does that system serve?”

Mr. Polyanskiy continued to accuse America of upending world order, expressed concern over a new Cold War-like arms race, and lashed out at European members for being too timid in criticizing Washington’s behavior. He waved away the question on everybody’s mind — except to remind reporters he, too, is worried about his offspring.

Well, in Sting’s immortal line, we all trust the Russians love their children too, but as Ronald Reagan always said when signing treaties with the Kremlin, we also need to verify.

________

Mr. Avni is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.


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