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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Washington (AFP) – The United States has found that Russia violated a 1987 arms control treaty by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, a senior U.S. official said late Monday, calling the matter “very serious.”

The announcement adds a new dispute at a time of already heightened tensions between Washington and the Kremlin over the crisis in Ukraine, with western countries accusing Russia of arming Ukrainian separatists and destabilizing the country.

The U.S. concluded in a 2014 report that Russia had violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which barred it from possessing, producing or flight-testing such cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, the official told AFP.

President Barack Obama has sent a letter to his counterpart Vladimir Putin on the subject, which the administration official described as “a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now.”

Washington was prepared to discuss its determination with Moscow “immediately” in senior-level bilateral talks, the official added, saying Congress and U.S. allies have been kept abreast of the matter.

“The United States is committed to the viability of the INF Treaty,” the official said. “We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner.”

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed by then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, eliminated nuclear and conventional intermediate range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.

The official said the INF treaty served the “mutual security interests of the parties” — not only the United States and Russia but also 11 other successor states of the Soviet Union.

“Moreover, this treaty contributes to the security of our allies and to regional security in Europe and in the Far East.”

“The United States will, of course, consult with allies on this matter to take into account the impact of this Russian violation on our collective security if Russia does not return to compliance,” the official said.

In January, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington had raised concerns with Moscow following a New York Times report it had begun testing a new ground-launched cruise missile as early as 2008, and that the State Department’s senior arms control official had repeatedly raised the issue with Moscow since May 2013.

Psaki said at the time she could not refute the details of the Times report, and that there was an ongoing interagency review to determine whether the Russians had violated the terms of a US-Russian arms control pact.


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  • sigrid28

    As if he did not have enough on his plate already, our president now has to deal with his own “Russian missile crisis,” a half century after President Kennedy finessed a similar difficulty without firing a shot. Since then, we have not had a feeling of false security but rather an expanding consciousness, worldwide, that nuclear weaponry is not the answer. Codifications in treaties and inspection protocols have since usefully expanded the means of coping with violations like the one reported this week. Enhanced surveillance technology makes missile tests like this one virtually impossible to hide. So Putin is brandishing this test for a reason.

    To me, this seems like another proof that President Putin plays from the handbook of Machiavelli: Putin cultivates the REPUTATION for being ruthless, a characteristic Russians have admired culturally throughout history, no matter how many serfs must suffer to allow their tsars to acquire this dangerous form of repute. There is little difference between these tsars and Stalin. If we were look for an American equivalency, we might characterize the majority of Russians who admire Putin as being like slaves before the Civil War who identified with their masters, in return for protections and lesser punishments than they might otherwise have received, given the master’s reputation for brutality. Notably, these masters did not survive. Yet it took an epic struggle to displace them, and we still are a nation marred by the scars they left behind. That is why our president has been the target of relentless racial animus.

    So our worst instincts help us understand Russians and their devotion to leaders whose brutality they admire. Russians accept that the vast majority will serve a brutal dictator, not become one, but in return, they get the satisfaction of identifying with him–a perk they have come to settle for over the centuries. A minority of Americans–for example, aggrieved and furious members of the Tea Party–also admire tough talk and the tactics of tyranny. Most Americans, by contrast, seek out leaders whom they admire for other reasons and with whom they even identify. In addition, 35% of Americans among the 98% think they can make it big by winning the lottery and becoming members themselves in the small circle of American aristocracy, the 1%. What do many lottery winners do? They buy ATVs and automobiles and huge estates, tricked out like the Duck Dynasty clan in their “royal” colors. By Russian standards, it is a soft victory–and often it is temporary. Amazing, how easy it is to run through even millions of dollars.

    Putin, who enjoys popularity today in the Russian mode of the brutal dictator, might wish to count his time jealousy, as these dictators have often had short lives brought to a close in a violent manner. Members of true aristocracies have always known their days were numbered. Queen Elizabeth I, whose reign was long indeed, put is simply: “All my jewels for a moment of time.”