Russia's deployment of nuclear-capable missile threatens Nato, senior American general says

Ben Kentish
Paul Selva said Russia 'did not intend to return to compliance' with the arms treaty: Reuters

Russia has deployed a long-range missile that threatens the US and Nato and violates an international arms treaty, a senior American general has claimed.

Paul Selva, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee that Moscow had intentionally deployed the weapon in order to threaten the West.

"The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility," he said.

The deployment of the land-based cruise missile violates the “spirit and intent” of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) between the US and Russia, Mr Selva added.

Russian leaders “do not intend to return to compliance” of the treaty, he suggested, adding that US officials had raised the issue with Moscow.

His comments mark the first time US officials have confirmed media reports last month relating to the deployment of the nuclear-capable SSC-8 missiles, which is said to have taken place late last year.

During the Armed Services Committee hearing, US military officials also gave their support to the START agreement between America and Russia that seeks to reduce both countries’ stock of nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump appeared to question the value of the treaty after it was reported he had told Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, that the deal was not beneficial to the United States.

But military leaders told congressmen the treaty was needed to prevent an arms race.

"I have stated for the record in the past, now I'll state again that I am a big supporter of the New START agreement," said Air Force General John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command.

"The risk [of scrapping the agreement] would be an arms race, we are not in an arms race now."