The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

Any doubts about Rus­sia’s mil­i­tar­ily sig­nif­i­cant vi­o­la­tion of the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty were largely dis­pelled by Moscow’s mil­i­tary chief this month.

Gen. Valery Gerasi­mov, chief of the gen­eral staff, told Rus­sian state me­dia that units with pre­ci­sionguided mis­siles with ranges of up to 2,485 miles are in place.

“We have formed com­mand bod­ies and spe­cial units to plan the use of long-range pre­ci­sion-guided mu­ni­tions and pre­pare flight as­sign­ments for all types of cruise mis­siles,” Gen. Gerasi­mov said dur­ing a meet­ing of De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cials on Nov. 6.

Ac­cord­ing to the gen­eral, the Rus­sian mil­i­tary has de­ployed hard­ware and soft­ware for plan­ning, in­for­ma­tion sup­port, and data for us­ing the mis­siles in com­bat. “This has en­abled us to set up full-scale units of ve­hi­cles ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing pre­ci­sion-guided mis­siles to tar­gets lo­cated up to [2,485 miles] away,” he said.

The mis­sile the gen­eral was re­fer­ring to is the Kal­ibr cruise mis­sile, used re­cently in Syria, that ap­pears to vi­o­late the Rea­gan-era treaty pro­hibit­ing ground­based nu­clear and con­ven­tional mis­siles with ranges from 310 miles to 3,420 miles.

An ear­lier INF vi­o­la­tion in­volved the flight-test­ing of a new ground-launched cruise mis­sile iden­ti­fied by the Pen­tagon as the SSC-X-8.

“I don’t see how this can be read as any­thing else but a de­scrip­tion of a ma­jor Rus­sian INF Treaty vi­o­la­tion by the chief of the gen­eral staff,” said Mark Schnei­der, a former Pen­tagon nu­clear pol­icy of­fi­cial.

The Na­tional Air and Space In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter re­vealed in its most re­cent re­port on mis­sile threats that Rus­sia’s 1,553-mile-range Kal­ibr mis­sile is de­ployed as a ground-launched cruise mis­sile (GLCM).

“In his speech, Gerasi­mov said the range of the Kal­ibr is 4,000 kilo­me­ters,” said Mr. Schnei­der, now with the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Public Pol­icy. “A GLCM with … a range of either 2,500-kilo­me­ter or 4,000-kilo­me­ter range is a clear vi­o­la­tion of the INF Treaty.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Rus­sia does not call its heavy bombers or war­ships “units of ve­hi­cles” — thus in­di­cat­ing the forces are ground-launched mis­siles.

“In De­cem­ber 2015, [Rus­sian] Pres­i­dent [Vladimir] Putin said that Kal­ibr can carry nu­clear war­heads. A dual-ca­pa­ble GLCM with a range of either 2,500 or 4,000-kilo­me­ter range is a ma­jor threat to NATO and, in­deed, any of Rus­sia’s neigh­bors.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to re­spond to the INF vi­o­la­tion with new mis­siles and de­fenses.

Chris Ford, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil di­rec­tor for arms pro­lif­er­a­tion, said last sum­mer that a broad range of op­tions is be­ing con­sid­ered. Rob Soofer, deputy as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary for nu­clear and mis­sile de­fense pol­icy, told a Se­nate hear­ing in June that the INF breach is un­ac­cept­able.

“Re­solv­ing Rus­sia’s INF Treaty vi­o­la­tion is a top pri­or­ity for this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Mr. Soofer said. “This ad­min­is­tra­tion has been clear with Rus­sia that the sta­tus quo is un­ac­cept­able and that the United States must there­fore con­sider con­crete steps that will deny Rus­sia any sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary ad­van­tage from this vi­o­la­tion.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has the back­ing of Congress. The de­fense autho­riza­tion bill re­cently com­pleted in the House-Se­nate con­fer­ence con­tains pro­vi­sions for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­velop coun­ter­mea­sures.

The leg­is­la­tion will state that Rus­sia is in ma­te­rial breach of the INF Treaty and au­tho­rizes $58 mil­lion for re­search on road-mo­bile, ground-based mis­siles with ranges of 310 to 3,420 miles. The bill also re­quires in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to no­tify Congress of Moscow’s INFre­lated ac­tiv­i­ties and for the Trea­sury Depart­ment to sanc­tion Rus­sian of­fi­cials linked to the treaty vi­o­la­tion.

The Gerasi­mov com­ments also are bad news for Amer­i­can arms con­trol ad­vo­cates in and out of gov­ern­ment who have tried to wish away the INF Treaty vi­o­la­tion with the hope that Moscow will re­turn to com­pli­ance.

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