U.S. Accuses Russia of Violating Nuclear Arms Treaty

The U.S. accused Russia of violating a Cold War-era arms-control treaty barring it from making, possessing or testing a ground-launched cruise missile, adding a new strain in relations between the two countries.

A U.S. intelligence analysis has concluded that 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, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today.

“Adherence to that treaty also provides important safeguards for our allies in Western Europe and even some of our allies in the Asia-Pacific region as well,” Earnest said.

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, he said. The 1987 accord was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Obama administration’s determination is a new source of friction between Putin’s government and the U.S. and its allies over Russia’s backing of separatists in Ukraine. The European Union today agreed to curb Russia’s access to bank financing and advanced technology, matching sanctions imposed earlier by the U.S. The Obama administration may announce as soon as this afternoon additional penalties.

U.S. lawmakers have been informed of the finding, as have American allies. The determination was the subject of a letter yesterday from President Barack Obama to Putin.

‘Unsatisfactory’ Response

“We have raised concerns with the Russians about the importance of complying with this aspect of the treaty, and I guess suffice it to say that the response that we received from them was unsatisfactory,” Earnest said.

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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