China-Russia Joint Statement Reveals Disinformation on Strategic Arms

Beijing, Moscow falsely blame US for worsening global geopolitical environment

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping / Getty Images

A joint statement issued last month by the leaders of China and Russia reveals growing strategic cooperation between the two nations and their disinformation themes targeting the United States.

The June 5 joint statement was signed in Moscow following a summit between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The statement calls for China and Russia "to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security policies" and blames the United States for undermining arms control and strategic stability since 2001.

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A U.S. intelligence official said the statement affirming increased strategic cooperation between Beijing and Moscow is a masterpiece of disinformation designed to divert attention from both states' rapid development of nuclear weapons and new and exotic delivery systems.

"This is part of their information warfare against the United States," the official said.

The statement begins by saying China and Russia "note with alarm the extremely dangerous actions of individual states" working to "destroy or alter the existing architecture of arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The comment was a veiled reference to the United States, regarded by both nations' militaries as their main strategic enemy.

The statement then accused the United States of undermining global order in seeking geopolitical and commercial gain.

"In the pursuit of a strategic advantage in the military sphere, in the intention to ensure ‘absolute security' and in order to gain unlimited opportunities for military-political pressure on opponents of such states, mechanisms working to maintain stability are unceremoniously destroyed," the statement said.

The Russians and Chinese go on to say that nuclear states bear great responsibility for maintaining strategic stability and should eliminate problems and enhance mutual trust through dialogue.

"The parties emphasize that the nuclear powers should abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, stop the unrestricted development of global missile defense, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security policies, and reduce the threat of nuclear war," the statement said.

However, both Russia and China have refused to engage the Trump administration in substantive arms control negotiations on a range of issues, from strategic arms to regional security.

The United States is then blamed by China and Russia for undermining arms control by jettisoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001, and recently announcing withdrawal of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Both treaties were violated by first the Soviet Union and later Russia—actions which undermined international arms control.

Russia eventually admitted that its ABM radar at Krasnoyarsk violated the treaty, and Moscow defeated the INF treaty by developing, testing, and deploying its new nuclear-capable cruise missile called the SSC-8.

"Violations must have consequences," Trump said in announcing the INF treaty halt. "Nearly six years of diplomacy and more than 30 meetings have failed to convince Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty. Enough is enough."

Additionally, the joint statement accused the United States of undermining strategic stability by developing and deploying strategic missile defenses and deploying them around the world and in space.

Missile defenses have been denounced by both China and Russia because of both nations' heavy reliance on missile systems—even though current U.S. missile defenses have very little capabilities against either country's missiles.

On the INF treaty, the statement said both China and Russia favor "resolving disagreements" on the treaty through close dialogue.

In reality, Russia refused for several years to engage in any meaningful dialogue on the INF treaty violation and countered U.S. claims with false charges that U.S. target missiles, which are not covered by the treaty, violated the accord.

China is not a party to the INF treaty and as a result has deployed hundreds and possibly thousands of missiles that would be covered by the treaty.

The treaty banned ground-based missiles with ranges of between 310 miles and 3,420 miles.

The statement then said the collapse of INF could negatively impact the prospect of renewing the New START strategic arms treaty that will lapse in February 2021.

Senior Trump administration officials have said extending the treaty is in doubt based on Moscow's development of several new "superweapons" that circumvent the treaty.

Russia has nearly completed an aggressive nuclear modernization program that includes an array of new missiles and delivery systems.

In March 2018, Putin announced rapid development of several new strategic weapons, including a drone submarine armed with a megaton-class nuclear warhead, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and a maneuvering hypersonic nuclear-tipped missile.

Both China and Russia also affirmed the importance of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which China violated with impunity by transferring both nuclear and missile know-how to Pakistan and North Korea.

On the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, China and Russia affirmed an "unwavering commitment" to the agreement that has been rejected by the administration.

The statement also praised what it called "rigorous fulfillment" by Iran of its obligations to the treaty.

Iran, however, has announced it is expanding its nuclear fuel manufacturing beyond the treaty limits.

Another hypocritical element in the joint statement is the claim that China and Russia "strongly support" the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that bans testing of nuclear weapons.

Claims made by both nations in the statement on nuclear arms were contradicted in May by Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Ashley disclosed in a speech that China and Russia are building up nuclear forces in ways that indicate an increased reliance on nuclear arms—not a lessening of reliance.

Moscow has adopted a policy that calls for using nuclear arms early in a conflict as part of what it calls "escalate to de-escalate."

China claims to adhere to a policy of not being the first to use nuclear arms in a conflict. However, Chinese military leaders have said China would use nuclear arms in a conflict in response to the U.S. use of precision-guided conventionally armed missiles.

"And it's not just in the nuclear," he said of the Chinese. "If you look at all the domains, what they have done in terms of modernizing the military across aviation, and a big area not the subject of this topic is really the space/counterspace aspect of how the Chinese are approaching warfighting from every domain. But there is a significant investment in their nuclear forces."

Ashely also revealed that both Russia and China are circumventing the test ban treaty with low-yield nuclear tests in violation of the treaty's "zero yield" provisions.

China is increasing activity year round at its nuclear testing area, and Moscow is conducting low-yield tests as part of its large-scale nuclear buildup.

Yet the joint statement signed in Moscow states that China and Russia "believe that the ban on nuclear testing is an important step in the implementation of comprehensive and final nuclear disarmament, and is also of great importance for world stability and global security."

China and Russia also stepped up their propaganda against American efforts to develop space warfare capabilities in response to similar space weapons developed by Beijing and Moscow.

"A real concern is the real prospect of an arms race in outer space and turning it into an arena of military confrontation, which leads to the undermining of strategic stability," the statement said.

No mention was made of the array of space weapons built by both states.

China has several types of anti-satellite missiles capable of hitting satellites in low and high orbits, and is close to deploying a ground-based laser that can damage or destroy satellites. Space-based capabilities include small maneuvering satellites that can grab and crush orbiting satellites.

Moscow also has a new anti-satellite missile called the Nudol and is working on other space warfare capabilities, according to American defense officials.

The statement seeks to promote the past joint Chinese and Russian arms control accord that would ban weapons in space.

The United States has rejected the space agreement as unverifiable and contrary to current Chinese and Russian space weapons developments.

The statement calls for a "legally binding" international agreement under the United Nations barring deployment of weapons in space.

"Russia and China express an unswerving commitment to working together to preserve and strengthen with great difficulty the system of international mechanisms in the field of non-proliferation and arms control," the statement said.

The intelligence official, however, said contrary to the propaganda statement both Beijing and Moscow have undermined strategic stability.

Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, said at a security conference in Colorado last week that he is concerned about growing Chinese-Russian military cooperation.

Chinese military forces joined Russian troops for a large-scale exercise in the Russian Far East called Vostok last year.

And in recent weeks, Russian strategic bombers from Far East bases conducted flights around Taiwan.

The Russians "were not demarched by China, and I will tell you, China demarches everybody else on the planet that does such a thing which just makes you believe that they had the tacit approval of China either before execution or during it," Davidson said.

"I think that that is not an outcome we want, an aligned China and Russia opposing the international order that's espousing these free and Indo-Pacific and, indeed, the whole of the global order's concerns."