NATO and Poland joined with the United States on Wednesday in voicing concerns that Russia was in violation of a Cold War-era nuclear missile treaty.
After months of speculation on when it might happen, Washington earlier this week officially accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with its testing of a ground-launched cruise missile. The bilateral pact bans possession of any missile with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles. Russia has denied any wrongdoing.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a statement said the INF treaty today "remains a key element of Euro-Atlantic security -- one that benefits our mutual security and must be preserved." He called on the Kremlin to "work constructively to resolve" issues related to compliance.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement noting its concerns with the United States' accusation of treaty cheating. "The INF treaty is one of the foundations of the arms control and nuclear disarmament regime. ... Its undermining would represent a serious challenge to Europe's security," the ministry said.
"The current situation reaffirms the importance of NATO's nuclear deterrence policy," Warsaw said.
In Washington, the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee introduced a bill that would, among other things, require the U.S. government "to establish and carry out a program to research and develop ground-launched cruise missile and ground-launched ballistic missile capabilities" with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles, according to the legislation text.
"Vladimir Putin does not take his obligations seriously, whether they be arms control or respect for the integrity of Ukraine and Georgia," bill sponsor Representative Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a press release. "While the president may prefer to lead from behind in the face of Russian aggression, Congress cannot. We will impose serious consequences for Putin's threats to our security."
The Russian government on Wednesday defended itself against the treaty-violation accusations and responded with its own allegations that some U.S. ballistic missile defense activities contravened the accord.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement quoted by Russia Today, said: "We have accumulated a considerable amount of complaints to [be addressed to] the U.S. in the framework of the treaty. In particular, on target missile defense tests similar in characteristics to the short- and intermediate-range missiles and the manufacturing of armed drones, which meet the treaty's definition of ground-launched cruise missiles."