Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range

Russia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.

The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.

The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.

The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The missile test was the latest element of nuclear saber rattling by Russia, which has been using its strategic nuclear forces in provocative activities.

Moscow is engaged in a major nuclear forces buildup that includes new land-based missiles, new missile submarines, and new bombers.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney earlier this month called recent Russian strategic forces activity increasingly provocative, and said that such actions were intended as political “signaling” to the West.

“They are very provocative,” Haney said of Russian nuclear exercises during the Ukraine crisis, long-range nuclear bomber flights, and the violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty through building a banned cruise missile.

James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, raised concerns about the Russian nuclear and missile buildup in February, noting that Moscow’s missile forces are “the largest, most capable foreign nuclear ballistic-missile force.”

“Russia’s weapons-modernization plans will focus on strategic warfare and ways to mitigate what they think are our advantages, like prompt global strike,” Clapper said.

“Russia is developing a nuclear ground-launch cruise missile in violation of the 1987 INF Treaty, and the Russian military is pursuing modernization across the entire suite of nuclear systems,” McCain said at a March 19 committee hearing.

“Russia likely is using its nuclear and cyber capabilities to intimidate and coerce NATO as part of its broader strategy to prevent the West from intervening in its invasion of the Ukraine,” he added.

Brian McKeon, a Pentagon official, told Congress recently that Russia’s nuclear buildup is part of a pattern of behavior that “poses one of our most pressing and evolving strategic challenges—challenges felt across the strategic forces mission space.”

Full article: Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range (Washington Free Beacon)

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