The end of a historic pact between the US and Russia, which eliminated a whole category of nuclear and conventional missiles and vastly reduced the chances of Europe become a combat arena for the two superpowers, has brought fresh uncertainty and concerns about a new arms race.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banned the use of all land-based short and medium missiles, with nearly 2,700 of them being decommissioned, and gave the two sides unprecedented access to each other’s arsenals for inspections.
Its signing, between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, was also hugely symbolic in highlighting the thaw in the Cold War. The US president had announced that he no longer saw the Kremlin as the centre of an “evil empire” and Margaret Thatcher declared that the Russian leader was a man the west “could do business with”.
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