On Monday, the U.S. added a new point of contention to its already adversarial relationship with the Kremlin, accusing Russia of violating the 1987 nuclear missile treaty. The Cold War era treaty, the New York Times notes, “bans medium-range missiles, which are defined as ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles…and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.” The U.S. says Russia tested a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the treaty and President Obama sent a letter notifying President Putin of the findings on Monday.
Here’s more on the alleged infractions from the Times:
Russia first began testing the cruise missiles as early as 2008, according to American officials, and the Obama administration concluded by the end of 2011 that they were a compliance concern. In May 2013, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials. The State Department said at the time that the issue was under review and that the Obama administration was not yet ready to formally declare it to be a treaty violation. In recent months, however, the issue has been taken up by top-level officials, including a meeting early this month of the Principals’ Committee, a cabinet-level body that includes Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, the defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of state and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senior officials said the president’s most senior advisers unanimously agreed that the test was a serious violation, and the allegation will be made public soon in the State Department’s annual report on international compliance with arms control agreements.
“In raising the issue now, the U.S. appears to be placing increased pressure on Russia and trying to further isolate it from the international community,” according to the Associated Press. On Monday, Obama and European leaders agreed to increase sanctions on Russia, targeting critical sectors of its economy, as punishment for the Kremlin’s support of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine.