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U.S. Said to Find Russia Violated Nuclear Arms Treaty

Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photographer: Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. determined that Russia violated a Cold War-era arms-control treaty barring it from making, possessing or testing a type of cruise-missile, according to an Obama administration official.

Russia broke its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty related to ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, or 300 to 3,400 miles, said the official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. The violation stemmed from the test of a prohibited missile, according to the New York Times, which reported the U.S. finding earlier today.

The U.S. has notified Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government and is calling on Russia to move into compliance by verifying the elimination of any prohibited systems, the official said. The 1987 accord was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Obama administration’s determination is emerging as a new source of friction between Putin’s government and the U.S. and its allies, which are preparing further sanctions within days against Russian interests over the Ukraine crisis.

U.S. lawmakers have been informed of the finding, as have American allies, said the Obama administration official. The determination was the subject of a letter today from President Barack Obama to Putin, the Times reported, citing U.S. officials it didn’t identify.

Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have disputed earlier reports that their government violated the treaty and registered their own complaints about U.S. missile deployments. Lavrov earlier this year raised questions about the U.S. missile-defense system’s use of rocket interceptors.

“We raised this issue several years ago in the bilateral context with the United States,” Lavrov said Feb. 1 when asked about a Jan. 30 New York Times report on the issue. “We still expect explanations -- and they could raise whatever doubts they have about us.”

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