US general says Russia has deployed banned missile
A senior United States (US) general yesterday accused Russia of deploying a land-based cruise missile in violation of "the spirit and intent" of a nuclear arms treaty and charged that Moscow's intention is to threaten US facilities in Europe and the NATO alliance.
"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," General Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
Selva said he sees no indication that Moscow intends to return to compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which bans an entire class of weapons - all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (310 and 3,410 miles).
Selva's accusation takes on added political significance in light of President Donald Trump's stated goal of improving relations with Russia, even as Moscow is perceived by US allies in Europe as a military threat of growing urgency. The alleged treaty violation comes amid multiple congressional investigations of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI is also probing ties between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign.
Some in Congress have expressed alarm at the alleged Russian deployment. Senator John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, last month called on the Trump administration to ensure that US nuclear forces in Europe are ready.
"Russia's deployment of nuclear-tipped, ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty is a significant military threat to US forces in Europe and our NATO allies," McCain, R-Ariz, said, adding that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin was "testing" Trump.