The United States stands ready to discuss with Russia how to improve the Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents on the High Seas and in Airspace Above It. The corresponding statement was made by the chief of staff of the US Navy Michael Guilday…
On April 5, the American admiral took part in an online briefing for a narrow circle of journalists, where he was asked whether the American side was ready to support the proposals of Russian colleagues to modernize these agreements.
The answer was: “As far as INCSEA is concerned, I always think about how I can do better. Therefore, if the Russians hold a similar view, then I am open for discussion. “
Gilday recalled that scheduled Russian-American consultations will take place this year, at which the implementation of these Agreements will be considered (such negotiations between Moscow and Washington are held annually – ed.). And he admitted that the prospect of modernizing the document could be among the issues of the meeting.
In his opinion, it is important to strengthen security at sea and avoid “any kind of incidents that could harm seafarers from both countries.”
The intergovernmental agreement in question was concluded between Moscow and Washington almost 50 years ago – in May 1972. And since then it has been automatically renewed every time for three years.
The document regulates the actions of the parties in the event of potentially dangerous situations that can lead to a military clash on the high seas and in the sky above it.
Russia has already raised the issue of renewing the treaty more than once. However, the Americans refused to discuss this topic.
At the end of last year, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkovspeaking at the session of the Russian-American Forum “Dialogue Fort Ross”, which this time was held in the format of a videoconference, he said that Moscow is ready to work with Washington to modernize mechanisms for preventing situations that could result in the use of nuclear weapons. And he recalled the “concrete ideas” for improving the 1972 Agreement, which had previously been presented to the American side.
Not long before that, by the way, an incident occurred in the Sea of Japan, which clearly demonstrates how our “partners” relate to their international obligations, including this document.
As a reminder, on November 24, in the Gulf of Peter the Great, the American missile destroyer “John McKay»Crossed the Russian maritime border and invaded Russian territorial waters for two kilometers. And only when the large anti-submarine ship “Admiral Vinogradov” threatened the intruder with a ram, the intruder left our waters. The American naval command later justified the actions of their destroyer “the right to freedom of navigation.”
Therefore, a natural question arises: on what conditions will the United States finally decide to improve the well-known Agreement, and will it not be a “one-sided game”?
– The document in question is undoubtedly important and necessary, since now the situation in the world is heating up, – believes Director of the Museum of Air Defense Forces, military expert Yuri Knutov… “But it needs to be updated to take into account today’s new challenges.
We know that US warships have been frequenting the Black Sea lately. And our Black Sea Fleet naturally drives them out. Especially when they try to penetrate our territorial waters or get close to the areas where our naval forces are training.
Let me remind you how recently the Americans staged a real hunt for our submarines, which entered the Black Sea for training. They even raised anti-submarine aircraft into the sky, trying to catch them. And this, in fact, is almost a reason for the outbreak of hostilities.
The same situation happens, by the way, in the Baltic. But the main thing is that we have the Northern Sea Route on the way, which the Americans say they will not allow to consider it a zone of Russian interests. This can lead to the fact that NATO ships simply go to the impudent, as they say. We will try to stop them – and here is a conflict situation for you.
Naturally, all such moments need to be foreseen and very carefully spelled out in the new version of the agreement that is being prepared.
But, if this document is again unfair – and recently the States have signed just such documents – and is aimed only at protecting American interests, then, of course, we cannot go to the conclusion of such an agreement. Definitely.
“SP”: – What exactly, in your opinion, should be improved in the agreement?
– First of all, this is the coordination of some actions and notification of them. I do not mean teaching – it is imperative to be notified of this. But some maneuvers can be carried out, unexpected.
For example, when the Americans, Norwegians or British claim that they have intercepted our strategic bombers, there is no merit whatsoever. We give advance notice of both the time and the route of the flight. Everything was written in a week, or maybe two.
In the agreement, such a requirement, I think, should be indicated. That is, we must be warned in advance, and we must warn in advance. Including the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The other side must be notified of the actions of the fleet.
Again, we should provide for some action on our part in case the agreement is violated. The sequence of these actions must be agreed upon – both from our side and from the American side. In other words, we act this way and this way. The last, this is an agreement through the Ministry of Defense – a phone call, and only then can the use of weapons be possible.
This sequence should not be lengthy; it should take minutes. But it should be foreseen by all means.
But most importantly, it is a ban on certain actions that the captains of warships can perform independently, at their discretion.
We’ve all seen footage recently of a Polish fishing seiner nearly ramming our support vessel during the construction of Nord Stream 2, and earlier a Polish submarine was spotted in the immediate vicinity of this place.
The inadmissibility of such actions should also be spelled out in the agreement.
There are, of course, other points that specialists know about and about which specialists will already worry.
Here it is important, first of all, not to allow a pretext for a military clash, which could develop into a large-scale military confrontation.
“SP”: – By the way, does this agreement help us in Syria?
“It’s not so much an agreement that helps as a“ direct line ”between the chiefs of General Staffs and a“ direct line ”between the leadership of our group of forces in Syria and the American group. If any conflict situations arise, then the first persons of the armed forces call up on this “direct line”. As a rule, the chiefs of the General Staff. But sometimes defense ministers make such calls in order to defuse or clarify this situation.
In my opinion, this practice is quite justified. The only thing it would be worthwhile to provide for some possibilities for this to be done more quickly, and not to be prolonged in time, when a naval incident could develop into a military clash. Another important point concerns submarines. They are on duty at depth, very often they solve secret tasks, but sometimes it comes to the point of collision of these submarines. And the reason for these collisions is also not always a mistake of navigators. There are planned collisions.
Such things must also be foreseen. Because, God forbid, the captain or someone from the team will panic and launch a torpedo at the enemy. Therefore, the moments associated with the actions of the submarine fleet should be prescribed separately, I think.
“SP”: – Suppose we with the Americans will take into account such moments. But there is a NATO submarine fleet. How to deal with him?
– That is why the Americans are always trying, as it were, to get a head start – they do not limit us and do not limit themselves. At the same time, the British prime minister Johnson said recently that his country intends to increase the number of nuclear weapons to 260. That is, they are increasing the number of their nuclear delivery vehicles, which will be installed on Trident-2 (D5) missiles, by almost 80 warheads.
And due to this, of course, NATO gains certain advantages, and we have to put up with this. If we now take a tough stance and demand that England also catch up to the agreement, then this will not end with anything. As in the case of the START III treaty, when Trump tried to get us to drag China into it.
The situation is about the same here. And, unfortunately, NATO is using this opportunity, because both Britain and France have nuclear forces. And they are not taken into account.
But we are trying to somehow compensate for this by means of tactical nuclear weapons. We have such an opportunity.
Mikhail Aleksandrov, leading expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies at MGIMO, in turn, spoke categorically about the statement of the American admiral:
– He only answered the question asked. But this does not mean at all that the Americans are ready for some serious shifts in their policy. Our representatives have long said that certain rules of behavior must be adhered to. Because the United States does not adhere to them, and this can lead to a dangerous confrontation.
However, I have no evidence that the Americans are ready to change their approach in any way. On the contrary, they are sending ships that actually go to our territorial waters, provoking in every possible way.
Therefore, it remains only to wait until they mature to the understanding that something needs to be changed. However, so far I do not see any optimistic prospects in this regard.