Russia is believed to have deployed a new cruise missile in an apparent violation of the cold war-era imposed arms treaty. The move is set to muddle up the outlook of US-Russia relations. In addition, a Russian spy ship has also been spotted off the US East Coast with Moscow's flights conducting sorties very close to a US Navy warship. However, the authorities have not yet linked these events.
The deployment of the cruise missile, first reported by the New York Times and later officially confirmed by the US authorities, will prove to be a major challenge for President Donald Trump during the early days of his presidency – especially in the wake rapidly changing environment in his administration.
Officials point out Russia's positioning of the sophisticated weapon – a ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile, which has been in the making for several years – is in sharp violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which bans US and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
"The Russian Federation remains in violation of its INF Treaty obligations not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500kms, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles," said Mark Toner, acting spokesperson for the US State Department, according to CNN.
The Obama administration had, years ago, accused Russia of violating the treaty by developing and testing the prohibited cruise missile but Moscow plainly denied those allegations. Washington had said that the Russian side expected the weapon would eventually be dispatched.
"Russia's deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to US forces in Europe and our NATO allies," said Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services, while calling on the Trump administration to keep the US nuclear forces in Europe in ready.