Pentagon magnifies belligerency toward Russia

The Pentagon has developed a range of military options to pressure Russia to correct its violation of a landmark arms control agreement, a senior Defense Department official told Congress on Wednesday.
The aim is to persuade Russia to address the Obama administration’s accusation that it has developed a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of a 1987 treaty banning intermediate-range missiles based on land. Short of that, officials hope to neutralize any military advantage the Kremlin might gain from the missile program should the diplomatic effort fail.
“Our strategy has two potential ends,” Brian P. McKeon, a senior Pentagon policy official, told a House Armed Services subcommittee. “First, we seek to convince Russia to return to compliance because we believe preserving the treaty is in our mutual security interest. If Russia does not return to compliance, our end will be to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from its violation.”
The Pentagon options, Mr. McKeon said, include deploying new defenses against cruise missiles; exploring whether to deploy American ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, a step that would also be counter to the treaty; and building up other military capabilities.
Rose Gottemoeller, the senior State Department official for arms control, told the panel that the administration was also considering “economic measures,” though she did not detail what such punitive steps might be.
“To date, Russia has been unwilling to acknowledge its violation or address our concerns,” said Ms. Gottemoeller, who led a team of American officials that visited Moscow in September in an unsuccessful effort to resolve the issue. “They have not acknowledged the missile.”
According to American officials, Russia began testing the cruise missile as early as 2008. The Obama administration initially raised its concerns with the Russians in May 2013 and formally charged that the test was a violation in July.
Russia has responded to the charge by accusing the United States of committing violations of its own, which Mr. McKeon said were spurious. The issue comes against the backdrop of tensions between the White House and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia over Ukraine, Syria and the future of arms control.
The hearing on Wednesday was often contentious as Republican members of the panel accused the administration of dragging its feet in pursuing its suspicions.
“After several years of nearly constant pressure from the Congress, the administration, this past July, finally announced what had become obvious: Russia is violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” said Representative Mike D. Rogers, the Alabama Republican who is chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.
Mr. Rogers said that he would support the administration if it mounted new military programs in response to the suspected violation. If the administration did not act, he said, his panel would back new investments in missile defense, nuclear forces and space abilities to “send Putin and our allies very clear messages.”
Ms. Gottemoeller rebuffed Republican charges that the administration had delayed charging the Russians with cheating on the 1987 treaty until it had secured Senate approval of the 2010 treaty cutting long-range nuclear arms.
She said, however, that the testing and development of the ground-launched cruise missiles had proceeded far enough that the Russians now had “the capability to deploy it.”
Much of the debate revolved around the Republicans’ insistence that a timeline should be set for resolving the allegation or carrying out measures to counter the new missile.
Declining to set a deadline, Ms. Gottemoeller noted that it had taken five years to persuade Moscow to dismantle a radar complex at Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, that the United States had alleged was a flagrant violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Much of the detailed discussion over the Russian program and the potential responses was reserved for a classified session. But before the public session was closed Mr. McKeon said that the Pentagon’s Joint Staff had prepared an assessment of military implications if the Russians were to deploy the ground-launched cruise missile in the European or Asian part of its territory. Any response the United States might need to undertake, he said, would seek to
avoid an “escalatory” spiral of Russian and American actions. But if Moscow
continued to rebuff American efforts to resolve the allegation, some sort of response
would be forthcoming, he indicated. “This violation will not go unanswered,” he said.

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