Russian Violation of Missile Treaty Draws U.S. Congress Scrutiny

  • U.S. should add artillery in Europe surrounding Russia: Scher
  • Pentagon this month said missile deployment threatens NATO

Russia’s deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile in apparent violation of an international treaty drew scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers proposing a tougher stance in support of NATO allies.

Republican Representative Ted Poe of Texas said the U.S. is “living in fantasy land” if it believes that Moscow will comply with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, which bans both countries from owning, producing, or testing a ground-launched cruise missile capable of a distance of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (3,420 miles.) 

General Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a hearing this month that the missile deployment, to a location he wouldn’t identify, presents a risk to many U.S. facilities in Europe as well as to allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. One battalion of the prohibited missiles is based near the southern city of Volgograd, the New York Times reported last month, citing U.S. officials it didn’t identify.

“There is a chance that we can convince Russia that it is better off coming back into compliance with the treaty, but up to this point, making that case to them through diplomacy has been ineffective, and I doubt that will change," Robert Scher, a former assistant secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, said in a prepared statement to members of two House subcommittees Thursday.

Scher said President Donald Trump’s administration should consider developing a ground-launched cruise missile similar to the one Russia deployed and asking Eastern European allies to add more artillery that can reach key targets in Russia.

In response to Russia’s arms deployment, Poe and Republican Representative Mike Rogers have introduced H.R. 1182, which would allow the U.S. to develop its own intermediate range missiles.

The hearing comes as investigations into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and potential contacts between Russian officials and associates of Trump’s campaign, continue to dog the White House. The Senate Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing Thursday on Russian activities during the election.

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