US accuses Russia of deploying land-based cruise missiles

Russia deployed land-based cruise missiles in its own territory in violation of the “spirit and intent” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by US President Ronald Reagan and USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 in Washington.

General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a statement to this effect on Wednesday the 8th of March, as reported by Reuters.

Reuters noted that the General’s statement was the first official confirmation from the American military about Russia's deployment of the missiles.

“The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility,” the general said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

On the 14th of February, the New York Times reported with reference to a source in the US administration that Russia had deployed cruise missiles in its own territory, in violation of the INF Treaty. Russia has two battalions of “prohibited” cruise missiles, American officials told the publication.

One battalion was moved in December 2016 to an operational military base in Russian territory, another is being tested at the Kapustin Yar test site in the Astrakhan region. Each missile battalion contains four mobile launchers and several missiles, The New York Times noted.

Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary to the President of Russia, said that Russia intends, as before, to fulfill its international obligations, including those related to the INF Treaty.

“No one has officially accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty. You mentioned some completely anonymized information. Without a doubt, Russia has remained and will remain committed to its international obligations, including the treaty you mentioned,” Peskov told journalists.

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said that the intermediate-range missiles deployed by Russia are a source of concern for NATO. “The INF treaty is very important, because the INF Treaty eliminated a whole category of nuclear weapons, weapons which could threaten Europe and NATO,” Stoltenberg added.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987. According to it, the treaty nations (USSR/Russia and USA) are prohibited from producing, testing and deploying land-based ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate (1000 to 5500 km) and short (500 to 1000 km) ranges.

  USA, Russia, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, nuclear weapons