Trump and Putin have relaunched the arms race. Hug Europe close, Britain | Rafael Behr

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The decision by Washington and Moscow to withdraw from a nuclear weapons treaty has just made the world a more unstable place

For a bit of perspective on turbulent times it helps to remember Able Archer. In November 1983, Nato simulated a confrontation with the Soviet Union. The rehearsal was so plausible that the Russians doubted it was a drill, and began a counter-mobilisation. Luckily, level heads prevailed. Able Archer was the name of the operation that nearly turned the cold war hot by accident.

Europe might feel a bit unstable these days, but at least it is not a hair-trigger away from nuclear Armageddon. One reason is the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. That deal, signed by Washington and Moscow in 1987, banned missiles with a range of 310 to 3,420 miles. Last week, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the INF, blaming Russian violations. Vladimir Putin reciprocated over the weekend, promising to accelerate development of prohibited weapons. Unless Moscow and Washington unexpectedly rediscover the spirit of detente, the INF treaty is finished. A global monument to the triumph of diplomatic rationality over militaristic paranoia is being pulled down.

Related: Donald Trump confirms US withdrawal from INF nuclear treaty

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Link : Trump and Putin have relaunched the arms race. Hug Europe close, Britain | Rafael Behr

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