In an escalation of tensions, the Obama administration accused Russia on Monday of conducting tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear- missile treaty, calling the breach “a very serious matter” and going public with allegations that have simmered for some time.
The treaty confrontation comes at a highly strained time between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and Putin’s grant of asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
An administration official said Obama notified Putin of the U.S. determination in a letter Monday. The finding will be included in a State Department annual report on compliance with arms- control treaties that will be released today.
The U.S. says Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Russian officials say they have looked into the allegations and consider the matter closed.
The Obama administration has expressed its concern over possible violations before, but this is the first time that the administration has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty.