Russia’s Lavrov Pushes Back on Missile-Treaty Breach Allegations

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pushed back on a newspaper report that the government in Moscow violated a Cold War-era weapons treaty, saying Russia has made its own complaints about U.S. missile deployments.

Lavrov told a panel at the Munich Security Conference he never comments on “leakages” and that channels are in place between the two governments to discuss compliance with missile treaties.Russia raised such a question about the U.S. missile-defense system’s use of rocket interceptors, he said.

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

The U.S. informed NATO allies that Russian missile tests may have violated a weapons treaty, the State Department said, confirming the Jan. 30 New York Times report. Ground-launched cruise missile tests that date back as far as 2008 violate a medium-range missile ban as part of a 1987 U.S.-Soviet agreement, the Times reported, citing U.S. officials it didn’t identify.

“There is a review, an intensive inter-agency review, as to whether this is a violation of the treaty,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington two days ago. Whether the tests violated the treaty “has yet to be determined,” she said.

Lavrov rebuked what he characterized as a targeted leak to the media. “Bringing this into the public, I don’t think it’s helpful,” the Russian minister said.

Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he urged President Barack Obama’s administration to confront the Russian government on the missile tests.

“The apparent violation of this treaty would put our allies at risk and be a major step backward in our post-Cold War relations,” Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said in a statement on his website.

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