The news about Sergey Ivanov's suggesting that Russia may want to withdraw from the INF Treaty come as a bit of a surprise. As it turned out, the news is not exactly new - Nikolai Zlobin of CDI reported last fall that Ivanov mentioned this idea at his September meeting with Western journalists. Still, it is not quite clear where this idea comes from.

To be precise, as Jeffrey Lewis correctly noted, the Russian military have a long history of complains about the INF Treaty. But these were centered on just one particular issue - the decision to eliminate Oka short-range missiles. These missiles had a range of about 400 km, so technically they should not have been included. But they were, apparently by mistake. As a result, this fairly insignificant episode has been blown completely out of proportions - if you listen the Soviet cold warriors it is all but responsible for the Soviet demise.

Since then the industry developed a new short-range missile, Iskander (or, rather, Iskander-E, where "E" stands for "export version" - the Russian armed forces can hardly afford new missiles in significant quantities). But the range of this missile is under 300 km, so INF does nothing to prevent Russia from deploying it.

Apparently, Ivanov had something else in mind - a missile with a range of more than 500 km. But why would Russia need a missile like that is not clear - there has been little discussion of this in the Russian press or in official doctrinal documents (including those presented by Ivanov not a long time ago).

Of course, the industry would be happy to start one more development project, but doesn't the Russian defense ministry have better projects to spend its money on?