The US is alleging that Russia has tested a new medium-range cruise missile, in violation of a landmark 1987 arms control deal, the New York Times reported today. While the Obama administration hasn't "formally declared" Russia in violation of the pact, which helped end the Cold War, this month it informed its NATO allies of the alleged breach. The Times reports the State Department would like to deal with the issue quietly, in a way that keeps the treaty intact and doesn't impede with the possibility of future arms control pacts.
Russia asked out of the treaty in 2005, arguing that it faced threats from nearby nations like China and Pakistan. But the US, and especially its European allies, haven't been comfortable with that. "The Americans have no need for this class of weapon," the Kremlin's chief of staff complained in June, according to RIA Novosti. "They could theoretically only attack Mexico and Canada with them." The US believe the tests may have started in 2008, but it wasn't able to firm up its suspicions until 2011, after years of intelligence work. Past reports and rumors have indicated that Russia violated the deal, but those reports pointed to a different missile that was tested at intercontinental, not medium range; as such it skirted the rules, but didn't break them.