President Donald Trump might have his first full-blown international crisis on his hands.
Vladimir Putin has secretly deployed a new cruise missile that violates a landmark 1987 arms control treaty.
The Russian deployment comes as Trump is trying to find a permanent replacement for Michael Flynn, who was fired as National Security Advisor after he lied to the vice president and other officials about the nature of a conversation with Moscow’s ambassador.
The ground-launched cruise missile is one that the Obama Administration said they had been testing back in 2014 and is in violation of a treaty that bans American and Russian land-based intermediate range missiles, The New York Times is reporting.
The Obama tried to convince Russia not to build the missile while it was still in test phase, in response, they continued their research and have deployed a fully-operational unit.
Administration officials tell The Times that Moscow now has two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile.
One is located in southern Russia near Volgograd and the other was shifted to “an operational base elsewhere in the country,” but we don’t know where it is.
In response to the development of the SSC-8, the Pentagon is now considering moving American weaponry closer to the Russian border.
“Russia’s deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe and our NATO allies,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement Tuesday. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “testing” Trump.
Meanwhile, a Russian spy ship has been operating in international waters off the U.S. east coast. The ship made a port of call in Cuba, then moved north where it has been monitored off the coast of Delaware.
John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said strategic stability on the European continent is at stake.
“If true, Russia’s deployment of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile represents a very troubling development and should be roundly condemned,” Tierney said.
The treaty has special significance in the recent history of arms control agreements. Signed in December 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, it has been credited with helping accelerate an end to the Cold War and lessening the danger of nuclear confrontation. It stands as the only arms treaty to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Russian weapons – nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range.